Booth. I. Junius Brntus, a tragedian, born in London, May 1, 1796, died on the passage from New Orleans to Cincinnati, Dec. 1, 1852. His father was a solicitor, his mother a descendant or relative of John Wilkes. He entered the navy at an early age, but soon changed from this to a printing office, afterward began the study of law, made some creditable attempts as a painter and sculptor, and finally went upon the stage, his first appearance being Dec. 13, 1813. After playing at minor theatres in England and on the continent, he made his debut at Co vent Garden theatre in October, 1815. He afterward played in provincial theatres, and having made a hit as Sir Giles Overreach, he was reengaged at Covent Garden, where he appeared, Feb. 12, 1817, as Richard III. Edmund Kean, ten years his senior, had just made his appearance at Drury Lane theatre, the manager of which induced Booth to leave the rival house, and appear at his own on the same nights with Kean. In " Othello" each took alternately the characters of Othello and Iago. This engagement was brief.
Booth returned to Covent Garden, where he met with an unfriendly reception, but soon gained great favor, especially as Richard III., Sir Giles Overreach, and Lear. In 1820 he again appeared as leading actor at Drury Lane. He afterward went to Amsterdam, and then to Madeira, whence he suddenly sailed to America, arriving at Norfolk, Va., in July, 1821. His residence was thereafter in the United States, and for a period of 30 years he played in nearly every theatre in the country. In 1824 he purchased a farm at Belair, 20 m. from Baltimore, where he resided when not occupied by professional engagements. His range of characters was limited, embracing only those which he had studied in early life. Richard III., Iago, and Sir Giles Overreach were his favorite parts, although he excelled in Othello, Lear, Shylock, Hamlet, and Sir Edward Mortimer. His personifications were marked by an intensity which placed him in the first rank of tragedians, but his irregular habits very often interfered with his success. Notwithstanding this, he retained much of his vigor to the close of his life.
II. Edwin, an American actor, son of the preceding, born at Belair, Md., in November, 1833. He was educated for the stage, supporting his father in inferior parts from his boyhood, and made his first regular appearance at the Boston museum in 1849 in a minor part in "Richard III." On occasion of his father's illness in 1851, he took his place and performed Richard III. at the Chatham street theatre, New York. In the following year he went to California and engaged for " utility business," and in 1854 made a visit to Australia, stopping at the Sandwich Islands on his way. He returned in 1857 and appeared at Burton's theatre, New York, in leading tragic parts. At the same theatre, under its new name of the Winter Garden, he gained a high reputation in 1860 for his delineation of Shakspearian characters. He visited England in 1861, appearing at the Hay-market theatre, London, and passed a year on the continent in studying his art. Returning to America in the fall of 1862, he entered upon a brilliant dramatic career, gaining great celebrity by his impersonation of Hamlet, Othello, Iago, Richard III., and other Shakspearian parts, and of Richelieu in Bulwer's drama of that name.
In 1869 he built a theatre in New York, which has become celebrated for the presentation of standard dramas with great perfection of* detail. HI. John Wilkes, brother of the preceding, an actor and the assassin of Abraham Lincoln, born at Belair, Md., in 1839, died near Bowling Green, Va., April 26, 1865. He appeared on the stage at an early age, but with indifferent success. During the civil war he passionately sympathized with the South, and near its close entered into a conspiracy to assassinate President Lincoln, the vice president, and some members of the cabinet. On the evening of April 14, 1865, the president was at the theatre in Washington. Booth gained access to his box, discharged a fatal pistol shot into the head of the president, and leaped upon the stage, breaking one of his legs. He reached the private entrance of the theatre, where a horse was in readiness for him, and with an accomplice rode 30 m. into Maryland. Here he stopped to have his fractured leg set by a physician, and then crossed the Potomac into Virginia. A party of pursuers overtook him before daybreak of the 26th at Garrett's farm, near Bowling Green, about 20 in. from Fredericksburg. He had taken refuge in a barn, and refusing to surrender, was shot, dying soon after. (See Lincoln).