An Interesting Full Length Portrait Miniature Of A Solemn Actor Clasping
A Book, Entitled Bottom Right "Hamlet;" The Reverse Entitled "The Late
Mr HB Irving as Hamlet" Together With "Aileen G Mules St Andrews,"
Within An Oval Gilt Metal Frame With Suspension Ring.
The Frame 73mm x 55mm.
Possibly Painted On Ivory, Good Condition.
Much Can Be Found On HB Iriving Including The Following:
Although, as a child, he appeared a couple of times in his father's
productions, it was intended that he would become a lawyer. He attended
Marlborough College and New College, Oxford where he studied law and
appeared in some student productions. Afterwards, in 1894, he was called
to the Bar at the Inner Temple, but instead of pursuing a career as a
barrister he decided to become an actor, taking the stage name H. B.
Irving to distinguish himself from his father.
His first appearance on the stage, at age of twenty-one, was at the
Garrick Theatre, London, in School. In 1906 he toured with success
throughout the United States, appearing in plays made memorable by his
father, The Lyons Mail, Charles I, and The Bells. In 1905 he gave a
lecture, largely autobiographical, to the Academy of Dramatic Art in
London. Inevitably, his early years as an actor were spent in the shadow
of his father, especially as, at first, he was a member of Sir Henry
In 1896, he married Dorothea Baird, who, after playing the part of
Trilby the year before, was, at that time, the best known actress in
Britain. HB and Dorothea had a son Laurence, who became a well known
Hollywood art director, and a daughter Elizabeth. HB continued to be
part of his father's company, but soon felt the need to branch out. In
1898, he joined George Alexander at the St James's Theatre where he
played Don John in Much Ado About Nothing, and appeared in the
surprising hit, The Ambassador, a play written by Pearl Mary Teresa
For the following seven years, the couple, selecting the parts that
appealed to them, moved between companies, sometimes together and
sometimes separately. In 1900, they both appeared in Beerbohm Tree's
production of A Midsummer Night's Dream that ran for 153 performances at
Her Majesty's Theatre.
In 1904, only a year before his father's sudden death on 13 October
1905, Irving played Hamlet for the first time. The production by Otho
Stuart, which was a popular success, was presented at the Adelphi
Theatre, with Oscar Asche as Claudius, Walter Hampden as Laertes and
Lily Brayton as Ophelia.
After his father's death, he established his own company, that included
his wife, and toured most provincial cities, playing mainly repeats of
Sir Henry Irving's best remembered performances. For the opening night
of the new King's Theatre in Southsea he presented Charles I, The Bells
and The Lyons Mail. Occasionally, other plays were presented including,
most successfully, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at the Queen's Theatre, London.
Film historian Troy Howarth writes "Some sources credit (Irving), who
played Jekyll and Hyde on stage, as the director of The Duality of Man
(a 1910 British film adaptation of the Jekyll and Hyde
In 1911, Irving, Baird and their London Company toured Australia, again
presenting Hamlet. Two years later, Baird retired from the stage, while
Irving kept on performing. In 1913 he visited South Africa, and a
photograph records his dinner with the Owl Club in Cape Town. In 1914,
he appeared with Basil Rathbone in The Sin of David at the Savoy
During World War I, Irving withdrew from the theatre and returned to the
law, writing the study for which he is now most famous, A Book of
Remarkable Criminals, originally published in 1918, which examined the
lives, motivations and crimes of some infamous murderers, Life of Judge
Jeffreys, French Criminals of the 19th Century and other papers on the
subject. After spending twenty years of his life dedicated to the
theatre, his greatest success came from being what it was intended he
should be, a legal expert.
H.B. Irving was also a founding member of Our Society with Arthur Conan
Doyle, Arthur Diosy, J.B. Atlay, and the Coroner Ingleby Oddie (among
others). Our Society is the still flourishing "Murder" Club in London,
where old crimes are discussed at regularly held dinners.
No Further Information On The Artist, Aileen G Males, St Andrews.