Souvenir theatre programme issued by J.C. Williamson Ltd for the production of the opera Hamlet starring Mr H.B. Irving with Miss Dorothy Baird as Ophelia at Her Majesty's Theatre in Melbourne in 1911 [no date on the programme]. The programme contains mainly retail advertisements, with images of cast and crew scatterd through the programme with the centre double page listing the production's performers.

Henry Brodribb Irving, the eldest son of famous English actor Sir Henry Irving, was born in London in 1870. After studying law he became an actor, taking the stage name H.B. Irving to distinguish himself from his father. He spent his early career as a member of his father's company. In 1896 he married Dorothea Baird, then the best known actress in Britain. They played parts in various companies, sometimes together, sometimes separately and in 1904 he played Hamlet for the first time at the Royal Adelphi Theatre in London, with Oscar Asche as Claudius,Walter Hampden as Leartes and Lily Brayton as Ophelia. It was to become his signature role and in 1905 after his father's death he formed his own company which included Dorothea. In 1911, H.B. Irving, Dorothea Baird and their London Company toured Australia which featured Hamlet on the repertoire. Dorothea retired from the stage in 1913, as did Henry during World War I, publishing his famous 'Book of Remarkable Criminals'. He died on 19 October, 1919 aged forty nine.

Physical Description

Long, thin format programme, 22 pages including cover, with salmon-coloured paper, stapled at spine. Black printed text and advertisements and images of performers throughout. Front cover features bust profile portrait of H.B. Irving.


Statement of Historical Significance:
This programme demonstrates the important role of the J.C.Williamson Company in bringing international performers to Melbourne theatres - in this case H.B. Irving, son of the more famous Sir Henry Irving and Dorothea Baird, one of Britain's most well-known actresses.

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