Dionysius Lardner Boursiquot Biography


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Dion Boucicault was born Dionysius Lardner Boursiquot in Dublin, Ireland, apparently in 1820, although he claimed a date in 1822. His mother, née Anne Darley, was sister to George Darley the poet and editor, and to the Reverend Charles Darley, a minor playwright. She was married to Samuel Smith Boursiquot, a Dublin wine merchant from whom she separated in 1819. Nevertheless, his will acknowledged Boucicault as his legitimate son, and the latter always referred to Boursiquot as his father—although Dr. Dionysius Lardner, who lived with Boucicault’s mother from the summer of 1820 and was the boy’s guardian, was probably Boucicault’s actual father. Lardner was the compiler of Cabinet Cyclopedia and the first professor of natural philosophy and astronomy at the University of London (from 1827). Although Lardner financed young Boucicault’s education in Dublin and in the London area, the affair with Boucicault’s mother did not survive Lardner’s relocation to England.

After a brief apprenticeship to Lardner as a civil engineer, Boucicault had embarked, by 1838, on a stage career under the name Lee Moreton. London Assurance, accepted for the 1841 season at Covent Garden, was a resounding success on whose proceeds Boucicault brought his mother to London. Living beyond his means, he soon exhausted the money his first few comedies and farces brought him. In 1845, he married a French widow, Anne Guiot, his elder by some twenty years....

(The entire section is 598 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Dionysius Lardner Boucicault (bew-see-koh), whose original name was Dionysius Lardner Boursiquot, was a popular dramatist, director, and actor who originated “sensation dramas,” melodramas featuring abundant comic relief and complex mechanical effects designed to surprise their audiences. He is also remembered for depicting the Irish and their customs favorably in such plays as The Colleen Bawn, The Shaughraun, Arrah-na-Pogue, and The O’Dowd. Boucicault was probably born in 1820, to Anne Darley and Samuel Smith Boursiquot, although some biographers suggest his father was Dionysius Lardner. Lardner later became young Boursiquot’s guardian and sent him to school in England, where he joined a touring theatrical company in 1837 or 1838 as “Lee Moreton.” Boursiquot also began experimenting with different spellings of his name, eventually settling on Boucicault.{$S[A]Boursiquot, Dionysius Lardner;Boucicault, Dion}{$S[A]Moreton, Lee;Boucicault, Dion}

Boucicault also began writing professionally under his acting name. After selling at least two plays, his first critical acclaim came in 1841 with London Assurance, a comedy of manners set in contemporary England, whose acclaim convinced Boucicault to write and act under his own name. In 1845 he married Anne Guiot, a French widow, and he lived in France until her death in 1848. In the meantime, Boucicault became familiar with French playwriting and production techniques.

In the early 1850’s, Boucicault acted with tragedian Charles Kean. He wrote two popular plays, The Corsican Brothers and The Vampire, for Kean’s troupe. During this time, Boucicault met (and perhaps married) actress Agnes...

(The entire section is 707 words.)