Appleton, William Worthen.
Billy Rose Theatre Division
Collection is open to the public. Library policy on photography and photocopying will apply. Advance notice may be required.
The William Appleton collection consists of letters, handwritten manuscripts, "penny plains" and "two-pence coloured" materials, which were small portraits of actors created for the toy theater trade, a once-popular form of home entertainment. The collection encompasses the late 17th century up through the mid-20th century, although thebulk of the material falls between the mid-18th century and the mid-19th century. The oldest item is a letter fromactress Elizabeth Barry to a Lady Lisbourn, dated October 25, 1697. The latest item is a letter from playwright George Bernard Shaw to a J. T. Grien, dated November 28, 1930. The collection contains many letters from prominent theatrical figures, primarily of the English stage, including Ira Aldridge, Dion Boucicault, Edward Gordon Craig, David Garrick, Sir Henry Irving, Edmund Kean, William Charles Macready, Bernard Shaw, Sarah Siddons, Dame Ellen Terry, and others. Also included are black and white portraits known as "penny plains," and color portraits known as "two-pence coloured," depicting actors and actresses of the day in their best known roles. These images were intended for home use in puppet theater-type settings, and most date from the early to mid-1800s, though some date as far back as 1799.
William Worthen Appleton, theater scholar, author, and collector, was born in New York on December 31, 1915. He graduated from Harvard in 1938, earned a Masters Degree from Columbia University in 1939 and a P.H.D. in 1949. He taught at Columbia from the 1940s until the late 1970s, and was appointed Professor Emeritus in 1976. Appleton haswritten and edited works on theater, primarily the Englishtheater of the 18th and 19th centuries. His works as author include A CYCLE OF CATHAY (1951), BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER: A CRITICAL STUDY (1956), CHARLES MACKLIN: AN ACTOR'S LIFE (1960), and MADAME VESTRIS AND THE LONDON STAGE (1974). Works edited include THE CARELESS HUSBAND (1966), THE PROMPTER: A THEATRICAL PAPER (1734-1736) (1966), and LETTERS TO DOROTHY (1988).
Controlled Access Terms
- Theater -- England -- History -- 18th century.
- Theater -- England -- History -- 19th century.
Additional Creator Names
- Aldridge, Ira Frederick, d. 1867.
- Barry, Elizabeth, ca. 1658-1713.
- Boucicault, Dion, 1820-1890.
- Craig, Edward Gordon, 1872-1966.
- Garrick, David, 1717-1779.
- Irving, Henry, Sir, 1838-1905.
- Kean, Edmund, 1787-1833.
- Macready, William Charles, 1793-1873.
- Shaw, Bernard, 1856-1950.
- Siddons, Sarah, 1755-1831.
- Terry, Ellen, Dame, 1847-1928.