Winter, William

Portrait of the American drama critic-author inscribed in 1894 to John L. Toole, English comic actor, manager, and producer

Price: $40.00

Description:
(1836-1917) American dramatic critic and author, known for his Romantic-style poetry, and for his long career as an editor and writer for some of New York City's great papers. Winter was a tour de force in the original Bohemian scene of Greenwich Village, going on to become one of the most influential men of letters of the last half of the 19th century and a pre-eminent drama critic and biographer of the time. He was the unofficial biographer of the Pfaff’s Circle of Greenwich Village of which he was a part. The Pfaffian's spawned the careers of such writers as Walt Whitman and Mark Twain. By 1854 he had already published a collection of verse and worked as a reviewer for the Boston Transcript; he befriended Pfaffian Thomas Bailey Aldrich after reviewing a volume of his poetry. He relocated to New York in 1856 and became a regular at the center of Greenwich Village's Bohemian hotspot, Pfaff's, where artists, renegades, and radical thinkers of all kinds converged. This was where Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Winslow Homer, Edwin Booth, Adah Isaacs Menken, Horatio Alger Jr and an endless list of the Bohemian crowd mixed with journalists and radical political thinkers of the times. It was a salon of the Civil War era where the unconventional literati would gather, where no topic was off limits and all eccentricities were embraced. The Pfaffian's gathered weekly at the Vault at Pfaff's Beer Hall on Broadway and Bleeker. Winter described the extraordinary scene and the many great minds he encountered in his biography “Old Friends” (1909). At Pfaff’s, Winter quickly was embraced due to his great wit and writing talents, becoming the right hand man to Henry Clapp Jr's circle of Pfaffian's. Clapp soon made him assistant editor and literary critic to one of the first truly Bohemian publications in America, the literary and social commentary weekly, “The Saturday Press”, in print 1858-66, where Walt Whitman and Mark Twain published their earliest works.Winter worked as a dramatic and literary critic for the Albion and Harper’s Weekly, as well as Greeley’s Tribune for over 40 years, his piercing wit and brilliant writing made him the leading stage historian and theater critic of the 19th century. In the 1880s he began publishing biographies of thespians like the Jefferson family and Edwin Booth. Winter opposed the modernist theater of playwrights like Ibsen, and maintained that drama should be a moral force. His 1912 “The Wallet of Time” offers a retrospective look at the development of 19th century theater; his work on New York’s theatrical scene details the careers, pursuits, and tastes of the major players and plays. Winter left an archive of biographies and essays on stars like Edwin Booth and Sir Henry Irving. His enormously prolific legacy is preserved at the Folger Shakespeare Library's Robert Young Collection on William Winter. SP, 6 x 4 printed 1892 sketch of Winter with facsimile signature below, likely taken from a book, inscribed at top: “To my dear old friend & comrade/John L. Toole from [signature]/Nov. 13 1894." JOHN L. TOOLE (1830-1906) English comic actor, actor-manager, theatrical producer, famous for his roles in farce and serio-comic melodramas for over 4 decades. He was the 1st actor to have a West End theatre named after him. Toole became troubled by gout in 1886 which left him sometimes unable to walk, and after an 1893 illness, he retired from the London stage, with occasional appearances in the provinces until about 1896. His theatre was demolished in 1895 and he dissolved his company after an 1896 tour.

Condition: Very good
Type:Signed portrait






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