[John Baldwin Buckstone, comedic actor and playwright.] Five Autograph Letters Signed (all 'Jno B Buckstone') to M. H. Simpson, lessee of the Theatre Royal, Birmingham, regarding arrangements, benefits, and Mrs Fitzwilliam.

John Baldwin Buckstone (1802-1879), dramatist and actor-manager of Haymarket Theatre, London [Mercer Hampson Simpson (1801-1877), actor-manager, Theatre Royal, Birmingham; Mrs Fitzwilliam (1801-1854)]
Publication details: 
From the Adelphi and Haymarket in London, and the Theatre Royal in Liverpool. 20 August August 1839, [November 1839], 29 April [1840], 29 November 1842, and undated.
SKU: 22239

See the appreciative entry on Buckstone by Donald Roy in the Dictionary of National Biography. Interesting and informative letters, shedding vivid light on the day-to-day workings of early-Victorian theatre, written by a leading London actor-manager and dramatist and sent to a provincial actor-manager, regarding the arrangement of engagements, benefits, and plays. Of particular interest is the fourth letter, which refers to Mrs Fitzwilliam [Fanny [Frances Elizabeth] Fitzwilliam, née Copeland] (1801-1854), with whom Buckstone toured New Orleans and the South, c. 1840-1841. Five items. Total of 7pp, 4to. Each on a bifolium. Aged and worn, each with a central spike-hole, and all with traces of mount adhering along one edge. ONE: 20 August 1839; Theatre Royal, Haymarket. Reverse of second leaf with broken seal in red wax, postmark (King Street, Covent Garden), and address to 'M. H. Simpson Esq | Theatre Royal | Birmingham'. 1p. Presumably referring to a Birmingham benefit, he states that although there is no person he would 'rather endeavour to serve than Mr. Monro', 'Friday the 30th is unfortunately one of the days (or rather nights) on which “Single Life” is fixed to be acted and Mr. Webster [the actor Benjamin Nottingham Webster (1797-1882) lessee of the Haymarket] cannot give permission for my absence'. He even 'waited till to-day to see Mr. W & be certain of public arrangemen[t]'. He reports that 'We are doing greatly here, comedy nights and all', and ends in the hope that 'things are flourishing at Brummagem'. He ends with regards 'to Mr. Monro and Mrs. Simpson'. TWO: Undated [on paper with watermarked date 1839]; 'Theatre Royal Liverpoo'l. 2pp. Closely written. He begins by explaining that Webster 'brings out a new play of Bulwers on Wednesday in which I am not concerned', and that 'there is not the shadow of a doubt that he will refuse me further leave of absence'. He 'would rather play for [Simpson's] benefit on Friday the 22nd. which I have no doubt I shall be able to do'. He states that he will arrange with Simpson before he leaves Birmingham, adding: 'I enclose you books of the Melodrama of Peter Bell which I think would act well at Birmingham. It will require getting up, and can't be too soon put in hand – if you can do it, we shall want a waggon and horses'. He enjoins him to 'read it attentively' and give his opinion of a detailed itinerary, for the purpose of Simpson making up playbills, for four days ending in 'Friday Benefit – Mr Buckstones last new comedy of Single Life and Peter Bell (perhaps)'. The itinerary features two of Buckstone's plays premiered in London in 1838 and 1839: 'The Duchess de la Vaubaliere - I think I called it The Dukes Bride” - you can refer to the bills and ascertain and “Weak Points”'. Also 'for this night only “The Lottery Ticket”'. He continues: 'What do you say to this arrangement? - I shall write positively on Wednesday – but I am so sure of being able to be with you that you may be getting the Duchess and Peter Bell ready.' Postscript: 'My part in Peter Bell will be “Martin” The Tinker'. THREE: 29 April [1840]; 'T[heatre]. R[oyal]., Adelphi'. 1p. Addressed, with broken seal in red wax and 1840 postmark, to 'M. H. Simpson | Theatre Royal | Birmingham'. The letter begins: 'Mr. Yates has only this morning decided that he will close on Wedy the 6th. May on Saty. the 9th. at the latest – in which case I can act with you, if the time will agree with your arrangements, or Monday the 11th. May for 5 nights – or commence Monday the 18th.' He gives a preference, explaining that he is 'in treaty with another Theatre for the 18th. or thereabouts'. If his suggested date is agreeable, he will send 'the Manuscript of “Poor Jack” [premiered at the Adelphi, 3 February 1840] and arrange my pieces for the week.' Simpson writes on the cover: 'Engaged for the 11th of May 1840 | M. H. Simpson | terms as before'. FOUR: 29 November 1842; 'T[heatre]. R[oyal]. Haymarket. 2pp. 4to. On bifolium with ANS by Simpson on recto of second leaf: 'Accepted. Decr. 3./42 on the terms proposed – except that they are to pay their share of Authors fees on the benefit nights | M. H. S.' Begins: 'As I have a long rehearsal of a New Comedy to-day, I find I cannot get to Broad Court: [i.e. the London street where Simpson was staying at the Wrekin Tavern, see Letter Four] I have seen Mrs. Fitzwilliam as to an arrangement conjointly with me at Birmingham'. He proceeds to put his proposal regarding arrangements, including 'a clean half of the Friday, for her benefit or mine, whichever we may decide may be most advantageous for all parties […] We have plenty of Novelty of a high order – 2 pieces quite new – viz – The Belle of the Hotel or American Sketches and The Snapping Turtles – which I think will run almost through the engagement: Mrs. F has also her own Copyright pieces – Foreign Airs[i.e. 'Foreign Airs and Native Graces' by W. T. Moncrieff, a play which 'Mrs. Fitzwilliam, J. B. Buckstone, and others from the Ludlow-Smith company from New Orleans', performed in May 1841] – Out of Place &c. & will play her original part in “Single Life” - indeed I think we can make it of mutual advantage. She will also play “Rosalind,” “The Country Girl” &c. as I think we can make a very strong arrangement for the 10 nights – giving you the option, if it answers all purposes of taking us on our return to London at a future period'. He ends with reference to 'several Benefits at the Haymarket at which we have been solicited to act'. FIVE: Undated; 'T[heatre]. R[oyal]. Haymarket. 1p, 4to. Bifolium, addressed on reverse of second leaf, with broken seal in red wax, to 'W. [sic] Simpson Esqr | Wrekin [i.e. the Wrekin Tavern] | Broad Court [Bow Street, London]'. A short letter, in which Buckstone states: 'After the 2d. Act of The School for Scandal – I have a boy wait – could I see you in my Dressing room – or I shall be at the Theatre tomorrow & every day this week from 12 till 2 – let me know.' Postscript: 'If you call send up your name – or come in at once'.