Document Type


Publication Date



“My ambition,” wrote William Charles Macready on retiring from the stage in February 1851, was “to establish a theatre, in regard to decorum and taste, worthy of our country, and to have in it the plays of our divine Shakespeare fitfully illustrated.” Although this was undoubtedly a life-long aspiration, which spanned over forty years of his professional career it was best expressed in the four theatrical seasons in which Macready managed Covent Garden theatre (from 1837 to 1839) and Drury Lane theatre (from 1841 to 1843.) It has been the purpose of this study to examine the contributions that Macready made to the theatre through a detailed study of each of the four seasons mentioned above.

The contributions of Macready to the theatre will be examined in the remaining portion of this chapter with reference to the following: first, Macready’s success as an actor-manager; second, his revivification of Shakespeare; third, his contributions to staging a production; and fourth his effects on the patent theatres and later actormanagers.


This is the concluding chapter in Bassett's dissertation The Actor-Manager Career of William Charles Macready available at