May 1st – Junius Brutus Booth

1796

Born today in St Pancras, London is Junius Brutus Booth.

If the name sounds oddly familiar, it could be because he became a popular actor at Drury Lane before emigrating to America in 1821 with a flower girl (abandoning his young wife and son). In America he was even more successful, compared favourably with Edmund Kean, and remained at the top of his profession for over thirty years.

Junius Brutus Booth

Junius Brutus Booth

It could also be because he had a turbulent personality, depending increasingly on alcohol and becoming notoriously unpredictable, often tumbling over the line into madness. He wrote a letter threatening to assassinate President Jackson, and surely enough his first marriage caught up with him towards the end of his life.

His name might be familiar because he was named after Marcus Junius Brutus, one of the lead assassins in “Julius Caesar”.

But it’s probably because he was the father of John Wilkes Booth, the man who (continuing his father’s legacy) assassinated President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre, Washington DC.

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