Sunday, January 22, 2006
Good Brother, Bad Brother: The Story of Edwin Booth and John Wilkes Booth
Giblin, James Cross. 2005. GOOD BROTHER, BAD BROTHER: THE STORY OF EDWIN BOOTH AND JOHN WILKES BOOTH. New York: Clarion. ISBN 0618096426 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]
Junius Brutus Booth, one of the most talented American actors of his age, fathered two arguably even more talented actors: Edwin Booth, acclaimed for his rational Hamlet and realistic Lear; and John Wilkes, who specialized in passionate Romeo and treacherous Richard III—and was Abraham Lincoln’s assassin. Their lives were lived mostly separately, but the bonds of family love and fidelity affected each strongly. The issues of the Civil War divided them, as it divided so many brothers; however, Giblin demonstrates that our subsequent division of these two into “good” and “bad” categories is overly simplistic.
James Cross Giblin’s dual biography is meticulously researched, clearly written, and provides a fascinating glimpse into both the glamour and tawdriness of these early stars’ lives. Giblin includes full source notes and provides an index as well as photo credits for the many reproductions of early photographs, portraits, and playbill facsimiles.
Just before his death, Edwin Booth made a series of recordings for Thomas Edison. Listen to a monologue and compare his “realistic” acting style to that of today’s actors.
Melodramas—the most popular theatrical form during the nineteenth century—are very fun to read aloud, complete with hisses and cheers. Locate scripts and try group read alouds.
Freedman, Russell. LINCOLN: A PHOTOBIOGRAHY. ISBN 0395518482
Taylor, Tom. OUR AMERICAN COUSIN: THE PLAY THAT CHANGED HISTORY. ISBN 0933833202
By Julie Brinker