William Godwin's Diary


Junius Brutus Booth (1796-1852) returned to Covent Garden to play Richard III on 12 February 1817, repeating his role the following night. The Morning Chronicle reviewer wrote that, ‘the figure and voice of this Gentleman …. resemble those of Mr. KEAN; and he has caught much of his manner, both in the energy of his utterance, and in the clearness of his articulation.’ On the 17 February an audience who had arrived to see him once more as Richard booed when Pizarro was played instead and the theatre manager was forced to appear on stage and explain that contract negotiations with Booth had broken down. Booth signed a contract at Drury Lane, where Kean had recommended him to the committee, and he made his debut there as Iago to Kean’s Othello on 20 February. However, Kean’s presence there ensured that Booth missed out on the leading roles and he eventually returned again to Covent Garden, by which time he had lost much of the good-will of London audiences.

See DNB and Morning Chronicle, February 1817 passim.