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....
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