Portrait of Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
Name:Herbert Beerbohm Tree
Dates:1853 - 1917
Address: 31 Rosary Gardens, SW7
Dates at address:1891 - 1901
Born Herbert Draper Beerbohm he took the stage name Tree in the 1870s. He attended schools across England and one in Germany. In 1883 he married actress Maud Holt. They had three daughters.
After leaving school he became a clerk in the family business. Success on the amateur circuit led to his first professional appearance as Grimaldi in The Life of an Actress at the Globe Theatre in 1878. Although an excellent and popular actor he still struggled with his lines. One contemporary remembers that he “with fertile invention posted prompters under tables, behind rocks, jutting walls or ancient oaks as he moved in well-disguised anguish from cache to cache.” Taking the lease of the Haymarket Theatre in 1887 he became an actor-manager. He produced an unusual mix of Shakespeare, early farces and contemporary social plays, including the first staging of Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance and The Importance of Being Earnest. In 1897 he built Her Majesty’s Theatre, renamed His Majesty’s Theatre in 1901, and staged the premiere of Shaw’s Pygmalion in 1914 adding a happy ending. When Shaw complained he replied, “My ending makes money, you ought to be grateful.” His most profound impact was the founding of RADA in 1904, which remains the world’s greatest drama school.
Born in Pembridge Villas he grew up with his half-brother Sir Max Beerbohm. He also lived in Sloane Street and Rosary Gardens, where his plaque can be found.
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