Devrient, the name of a family of German actors, of whom the most eminent are: I. Lndwig, born in Berlin, Dec. 15,1784, died Dec. 30,1832. His father, a silk mercer, intended him for a mercantile life, but at the age of 18 he joined a company of actors, and made his debut at Gera in Schiller's "Bride of Messina." He afterward travelled with the same company through Saxony, and in 1805 accepted an engagement at the court theatre of Dessau, and attained brilliant success. Pecuniary embarrassments drove him some years later from this place. He went to Breslau, and subsequently, at the suggestion of the actor Iffland, to Berlin, where in 1815 he appeared as Franz Moor in Schiller's "Robbers." From that time until his death he stood at the head of his profession in Germany. He was equally great in comedy and tragedy. II. Karl Angnst, nephew of the preceding, born in Berlin, Aug. 5, 1798. He served in a regiment of hussars in the campaign of 1815 against France, and was present at the battle of Waterloo; was afterward engaged in mercantile pursuits, and in 1819 made his debut on the stage at Brunswick. In 1823 he married the celebrated singer Wilhelmine Schroder, from whom he was divorced in 1828. (See Schroder.) He acted in all parts of Germany, but was for many years established at Hanover. He was long celebrated for his spirited personation of leading parts in genteel comedy.
III. Philipp Eduard, brother of the preceding, born in Berlin, Aug. 11, 1801. He commenced his artistic career as a baritone singer, but afterward appeared almost exclusively in the spoken drama, He was a careful and cultivated actor, a successful writer of dramas, and an authority on all that pertains to the profession. His chief works have been collected under the title of Drama-tische und dramaturgische Schriften (8 vols., Leipsic, 1846-'61), including several plays, miscellaneous publications relating to the stage, and a history of the drama in Germany. IV. Gustav Emil, brother of the preceding, born in Berlin, Sept. 4, 1803, died in Dresden, Aug. 7, 1872. Like his two brothers and his uncle, he was intended for the mercantile profession, but in 1821 went upon the stage, where he soon gained distinction, assuming with success many of the parts, both in tragedy and comedy, with which his uncle Ludwig's name is identified. His wife, Dorothea Bohler, from whom he was divorced in 1842, was an excellent comic actress, and ably seconded her husband for many years.
On Nov. 10, 1857, the 98th anniversary of Schiller's birthday, three members of the Devrient family, Gustav Emil, Karl August, and Karl's son, appeared together at Hanover, in the play of "Don Carlos." Gustav retired from the stage in 1867, having accumulated a large fortune; after which he wrote a history of the German stage, and an autobiography which was to be published after his death.