Ira Aldridge



Ira Frederick Aldridge, by Nicolas Barabas, 1853 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Ira Frederick Aldridge
by Nicolas Barabas
1853
NPG D7311

Aldridge was a celebrated American actor. He was born in New York in 1807 and grew up to love the theatre. As a young man he joined the African Theatre amateur group. Following the forced closure of the collective in 1823 Aldridge travelled to Britain, and first appeared on the London stage in 1825 in the Revolt of Surinam or Slave's Revenge. He also successfully played Oroonoko, but when he played Othello in London's West End in 1833 his performance faced racist reviews and future performances were cancelled. However he remained popular in other regions of Britain and throughout Europe and in 1862 performed in Moscow. The following year he became a British citizen. He continued to tour to critical acclaim, travelling to Odessa, Istanbul and Lodz where he died in August, 1867.

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