Sir Charles Wyndham (23 March 1837 – January 12, 1919) was an English actor, was born Charles Culverwell in Liverpool, the son of a doctor. He was educated abroad, at King's College London and at the College of Surgeons and the Peter Street Anatomical School, Dublin. His taste for the stage - he had taken part in amateur drama - was too strong for him to take up either the clerical or the medical career suggested for him, and early in 1862 he made his first professional appearance in London, performing with Ellen Terry.
Further stage work was not forthcoming, and he returned to medicine. There was a shortage of surgeons in the United States, which was in the throes of the Civil War, and he volunteered to became brigade surgeon in the Union army. He served at the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. On 17 November 1864 he resigned his contract with the Army to return to the stage. In later years he was to appear in America: between 1870-1872 in his own Wyndham Comedy Company; and in later tours between 1882 and 1909. On one occasion he appeared in New York with John Wilkes Booth.
Returning to England, his career blossomed. Although he was occasionally to play Shakespeare, his work mostly consisted of the popular melodramas and comedies of the time. He played at Manchester and Dublin in Her Ladyship's Guardian, his own adaptation of Edward B. Hamley's novel Lady Lee's Widowhood. He reappeared in London in 1866 as Sir Arthur Lascelles in Morion's All that Glitters is not Gold, but his great success at that time was in F. C. Burnand's burlesque of Black-eyed Susan, as Hatchett, "with dance." This brought him to the erstwhile St James's Theatre, where he played with Henry Irving in Idalia; then with Ellen Terry in Charles Reade's Double Marriage, and Tom Taylor's Still Waters Run Deep.
As Charles Surface, his best part for many years, and in a breezy three-act farce, Pink Dominoes, by James Albery, and in Brighton, an anglicized version of Saratoga by Bronson Howard (1842–1908), who married his sister, he added greatly to his popularity both at home and abroad. In 1876 he took control of the Criterion Theatre. Here he produced a long succession of plays, in which he took the leading part, notably a number of old English comedies, and in such modern plays as The Liars, The Case of Rebellious Susan and others by Henry Arthur Jones and Foggerty's Fairy by W. S. Gilbert (1881); and he became famous for his acting in David Garrick. In 1899 he opened his new theatre, called Wyndham's Theatre. From 1885 onwards his leading actress was Miss Mary Moore (Mrs. Albery), who became his partner in the proprietorship of the Criterion and Wyndham's theatres, and of his New Theatre, opened in 1903; and her delightful acting in comedy made their long association memorable on the London stage.
Wyndham was knighted in 1902. In 1916 he married Mary Moore (widow of James Albery), who for 30 years had been his leading lady and had also been associated with him as a manager.
- Florence T. Shore, Sir Charles Wyndham (New York, 1908)
- This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
- New International Encyclopedia
- Article: "A British Actor and Surgeon in Lincoln's Army"
- Wendy Trewin All on stage : Charles Wyndham and the Alberys (1980) ISBN 0-24553444-X
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article by Michael Read, ‘Wyndham, Sir Charles (1837–1919)’ online edn, May 2006 , accessed 13 Jan 2007
- Wyndham's obituary in 'The Times' January 13, 1919
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