Dionysius Lardner Boucicault was born in Dublin on December 26th, 1820. He began his career as an actor under the name Lee Moreton in Cheltenham and then Gloucester in amateur performances for Charles Hill. He was then taken on by Hill as part of his professional company when the latter moved to the Brighton Theatre Royal. Boucicault wrote at least two plays whilst working for Hill (A Lover by Proxy and A Legend of the Devil's Dyke) but they were not performed at this time. In May 1839 he appeared in Nicholas Nickleby at the New Strand Theatre in London but he returned to Dublin in 1840 to take a desk job as his money had dried up.
He soon returned to London and began acting at the Queen's Theatre. There, he met up with fellow Irishman, Charles Brougham, a member of Charles Mathews and Madame Vestris's Covent Garden company. Boucicault eventually persuaded Matthews to take a chance on him as a playwright and his first London play -- eventually known as London Assurance -- opened in March 1841 to great acclaim.
In the following years, Boucicault had 22 plays produced on the London stage including the operetta The Fox and the Goose (1844), in collaboration with the playwright Benjamin Webster for the Adelphi Theatre. However, not all of his play achieved his initial success and, short of money, he turned to translating popular French plays for the London stage. He moved to Paris, where he married a wealthy widow in 1845. They soon moved back to London and, having spent his wife's money, Boucicault took up acting once more. He was noticed by Charles Kean at the Princess Theatre and wrote The Corsican Brothers, a successful adaptation of the French playwright Dumas' play. Boucicault courted controversy by eloping with Kean's young ward, Agnes. The couple moved to the USA, acting and living as man and wife.
In America, Boucicault found success once more, with his plays, Jessie Brown; or, The Relief of Lucknow, The Octoroon and The Colleeen Bawn. His success encouraged the family to return to London. However, Boucicault soon began to over stretch himself and he hurtled towards bankruptcy and notoriety once more, after an affair with the actress Emily Jordan. Nevertheless, he did not give up and Boucicault went on to have popular hits with plays such as After Dark, Babil and Bijou, and The Shaughraun (first produced in New York).
Following the death of his eldest son and the collapse of his "marriage" to Agnes, Boucicault moved back to New York and "married" 21 year old actress Louise Thorndyke. They toured the country but by this time (the late 1880s) his plays were going out of fashion. Boucicault died following an attack of pneumonia in 1890.
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