Harley Granville-Barker

(1877—1946) theatre director and playwright

Show Summary Details

Quick Reference


British actor, producer, playwright, and critic.

Born in London, Granville-Barker began his career in Harrogate and in 1891 joined Sarah Thorne's repertory company in Margate. He made his London debut at the Comedy Theatre in 1892 and subsequently joined the Stage Society, where his friendship with G. B. Shaw began. He pioneered the establishment of permanent repertory companies and a national theatre, co-writing with William Archer (1856–1924) A Scheme and Estimates for a National Theatre (1907). As a co-manager of the Royal Court Theatre with J. E. Vedrenne (1904–07), he presented plays incorporating social comment and greater realism, including works of Shaw, Galsworthy, Masefield, and Ibsen, as well as his own plays. Lillah McCarthy, a member of the company, became his wife in 1906 but the marriage ended in divorce.

Granville-Barker's influence on the staging and interpretation of Shakespeare in particular was profound, beginning with his productions at the Savoy of The Winter's Tale and Twelfth Night (both 1912) and A Midsummer Night's Dream (1914); his Prefaces to Shakespeare (1927–46) remains a permanent and illuminating guide for theatrical practitioners and students alike. After World War I, during which Granville-Barker served first with the Red Cross and then in military intelligence, he married poet and novelist Helen (Huntington) Gates (d. 1950). In the thirties he spent most of his time lecturing at Oxford and Cambridge, and in 1937 he became director of the British Institute in Paris. In 1939 he went to the USA as visiting professor at Yale and Harvard, returning to Paris after the war, where he died.

Subjects: Theatre — Literature.

Reference entries

See all related reference entries in Oxford Index »

Works by Harley Granville-Barker

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content. subscribe or login to access all content.