Like the works already published, these latest volumes of the Biographical Dictionary deal with theatre people of every ilk, ranging from dressers and one-performance actors to trumpeter John Shore (inventor of the tuning fork) and the incomparable Sarah Siddons. Also prominent is Susanna Rowson, a novelist, actress, and early female playwright. Although born into a British military family, Rowson often wrote plays that dealt with patriotic American themes and spent much of her career on the American stage. The theatrical jewel of these volumes is the divine Sarah Siddons: She raised the tragedy to the skies, wrote William Hazlitt, and embodied to our imagination the fables of mythology, of the heroic and dignified mortals of elder time. She endured much tragedy herself, including a crippling debilitating illness and the deaths of five of her seven children. Siddons played major roles in both comedy and tragedy, not the least of which was a performance as Hamlet.
Philip H. Highfill, Jr., is professor of English emeritus at George Washington University.Kalman A. Burnim is Fletcher Professor of Drama emeritus at Tufts University.Edward A. Langhans is professor of drama and theatre emeritus at the University of Hawaii.