The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XVIII. The Drama, 1860–1918

§ 6. W. E. Burton

In 1860, the comedian W. E. Burton died; his last appearance was as Micawber, 15 October, 1859—a fitting end, as he was in the forefront of the Dickens interpreters. Dramatizations f Dickens in America kept pace with those in England. It is well to emphasize Burton’s stage career, because it brings to mind that the American theatre of that time was rich in comedians—all of them of the old school which looked for character parts to suit the old comedy style of acting. It was unfortunate for the American drama which began to developafter 1860 that it started just when the old-time stock company tradition passed from Burton and Brougham and Laura Keene to Mrs. John Drew (1820–1897), who assumed control of the Philadelphia Arch Street Theatre on 3 August, 1861—inaugurating a brilliant record which began to fade in 1877, just as Bronson Howard was gaining in his pioneer fight for the American dramatist, and just as the modern business of the theatre began to challenge consideration.