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Planche, James Robinson

PLANCHE, JAMES ROBINSON (1796-1880), English dramatist and antiquary, was born in London on the 27th of. February 1796, the son of a watchmaker of Huguenot descent. In 1810 he was articled to a bookseller. In 1818 his first dramatic piece, a burlesque entitled Amoroso, King of Little Britain, was produced at Drury Lane theatre. From this time onwards he made play-writing his principal work. In 1820-1821 he wrote ten pieces for the Adelphi theatre. In 1823 he designed the dresses for Charles Kemble's revival of King John at Covent Garden, and superintended its production. This was the first time that an historical drama had been " dressed " in the costume of the period. In 1828 he began writing regularly for Covent Garden theatre, and in 1830 was manager of the Adelphi. On Mme Vestris taking the Olympic theatre in 1831, Planch6 entered into an agreement with her to write a series of plays. The first of these, Olympic Revels, a burlesque, was given on the opening night of the theatre, the performance being given in correct classical costume. In 1843 his Fair One with the Golden Locks was produced by Webster at the Haymarket. In 1847 Mme Vestris became manageress of the Lyceum theatre, and Planche was engaged as her leading author and designer, his principal success being the Island of Jewels (1849). Subsequently he wrote for a number of other managements, his last dramatic piece being King Christmas (1871), but he also wrote the songs for Babil and Bijou at Covent Garden (1872). In addition to his dramatic work Planche enjoyed a considerable reputation as an antiquary and heraldic student. He was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and aided in the foundation of the British Archaeological Association in 1843. In 1834 he published The History of British Costumes. In 1854 he was appointed Rouge Croix pursuivant of arms at the Heralds' College, and in 1866 Somerset herald. In 1869, at the request of the War Office, he arranged the collection of armour at the Tower of London in chronological order. He died at Chelsea on the 30th of May 1880.

Planch6's Recollections and Reflections were published in 1872.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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