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Sothern, Edward Askew

SOTHERN, EDWARD ASKEW (1826-1881), English actor, was born in Liverpool on the 1st of April 1826, the son of a merchant. He began acting as an amateur, and in 1849 drifted into a professional engagement with a dramatic company at St Heliers in Jersey, where he appeared as Claude Melnotte in Bulwer Lytton's Lady of Lyons. Between then and 1858 he played in various companies without particular success, in Birmingham and in America, where he went in 1852. On the 12th of May 1858 Tom Taylor's Our American Cousin, a play of no special merit, was brought out in New York, with Southern in the small part of Lord Dundreary, a caricature of an English nobleman. He gradually worked up the humour of this part so that it became the central figure of the play. In 1861, when it was produced at the Haymarket Theatre, in London, he made such a hit that the piece ran for nearly five hundred nights: " Dundreary whiskers " became the fashion, and Dundreary this, that or the other made its appearance on every side. At various times Sothern revived the character, which retained its popularity in spite of all the extravagances to which he developed its amusing features; and his name will always be famous in connexion with this r61e. In T. W. Robertson's David Garrick (1864) he again had a great success, his acting in the title-part, which he created, being wonderfully effective. He won wide popularity also from his interpretation of Sam Slingsby in Oxenford's Brother Sam (1865). Sothern was a born comedian, and off the stage had a passion for practical joking that amounted almost to a mania. His house in Kensington was a resort for people of fashion, and he was as much a favourite in America as in the United Kingdom. He died in London on the 2 1st of January 1881.

Sothern had three sons, all actors, the second of them, EDWARD H. SOTHERN (b. 1859), being prominent on the American stage.

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

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