Rare Book & Manuscript Library

William Worthen Appleton papers, 1773-1853

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#0040
Bib ID 4078653 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Appleton, William W., 1915-2014
Title William Worthen Appleton papers, 1773-1853
Physical Description 0.5 linear feet (1 box (44 letters))
Language(s) English .
Access You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.



Organized by series.



The 44 letters related to British theater in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, dating from 1773 to 1853. The collection is divided into five series: I. Letters to William Kenneth (8); II. Letters to or about Richard Brinsley Sheridan (3); III. Letters to James Winston (5); IV. Theatrical letters arranged alphabetically by sender (26); and V. Non-theatrica l letters (2). The two letters in the 5th series are a letter from a solicitor to Lady Emma Hamilton dated 1806 and a letter from Irish poet Thomas Moore dated 1832. Most of the theatrical letters deal with the engagement of players and theater personnel.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); William Worthen Appleton papers ; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.


Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

Ownership and Custodial History

Gift of Professor William W. Appleton, 1969.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source of acquisition--Appleton, Professor William W. Date of acquisition--1969. Accession number--M69.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Processed 1969 and revised 1999.

Cataloged Christina Hilton Fenn 03/24/89.

Finding Aid Prepared by GC, February 11, 2000.

Revision Description

2009-06-26 File created.

2018-10-10 Updated and container list added, converted from HTML finding aid. kws

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

2021-03-30 Description of Thomas Moore letter added to the EAD container list from the earlier HTML finding aid by CCR.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Kenneth, William Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Milliken, Richard, 1783 or 1784-1834 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Moore, Thomas, 1779-1852 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Poets, Irish Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Theater -- England Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Theatrical agents -- England Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Theatrical managers -- England Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Winston, James Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

William Worthen Appleton, born December 31 1915 in New York received his Masters 1939 and Ph. D. 1949 from Columbia University after graduating with a BA from Harvard University in 1938. He taught at Columbia from 1941 until 1977 having been appointed Professor Emeritus in 1976. His area of interest was early English Theater as evidenced by the several books he wrote and edited including (1960). and In 1969, Professor Appleton donated this collection of 44 letters to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library to augment the performing arts holdings of the Brander Matthews Collection. The letters relate for the most part to early 19th century British theater and in the words of Professor Appleton provide 'a sort of cross-section of rather typical professional theatrical correspondence of that era.

After clicking 'Submit Request', users will login with their UNI and password (Columbia affiliates) or their special collections account (external users). Appointments are required and will be arranged according to each individual repository's policy.

Series I: Letters to William Kenneth, 1825-1835

William Kenneth appears to be a London theatrical agent for the provincial circuit. The letters usually concern the engagement of performers by provincial managers or, as in the case of Edwin Simpson, requests for plays and musical pieces to be sent to New York. The 8 letters are in chronological order.

Box 1 Barnard, S. W., Brighton To Mr. Kenneth, London, October 3 [n.y.]

3 p., a.l.s. Discussing performers including the young Kean

Box 1 Brunton, R., Swansea To Kenneth London, [n.d.]

1 p. a.l.s. About getting players for Plymouth and Bristol

Box 1 Cairnes, Catherine M. To My Dear Kenneth London, June 3, 1825

3 p., a.l.s. Authorizing a Miss Phillips to accept offer from Mr. MacReady. [Actor/manager Charles William MacReady, 1793-1873]

Box 1 Waldsor, R., Glasgow To Mr. Kenneth London, April 11, 1831

3 p., a.l.s. Regarding engagements

Box 1 Simpson, E[dmund Shaw, 1784-July 31, 1848] New York To Mr. Kenneth Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, May 31, 1832

2 a. l. s. Asking that music and titles be sent. Simpson was manager of the Park Theater

Box 1 Stanley, G. F., Theatre Worthing To Mr. Kenneth London, October 1, 1833

2 p., a.l.s. On reverse, contract for theaters in New Orleans.

Box 1 Mangeon, Augusta, Warwick To Kenneth London, October 2, 1833

2 p., a.l.s.

Box 1 Simpson, E[dmund Shaw]1784-July 31, 1848, New York To unknown [n.p.], November 7, 1835

1 p., a. fragment s. Discussing business and mentions Stephen Price who with Simpson managed the Park Theater. See also letter dated May 31, 1832

Series II: Letters to or about Sheridan, Richard Brinsley 1773-1775

Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1861), dramatist, theater manager and statesman, is best known for his 1777 play.

Box 1 Stott, C. To Sheridan [n.p.], July 8, 1773

1 p., a.l.s. Asking for money

Box 1 Portal, Abraham To Sheridan Orchard Street, Portman Square, London, November 27, 1775

2 p., a.l.s. Complimenting him on his comic opera [The Duenna]

Box 1 Sheridan, Thomas To Will, envelope addressed To Knight [n.p.], [n.d.]

1 p., a.l.s. About father, Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816)

Series III: Letters to James Winston, 1799-1826

The actor and theater manager James Winston (1773?-1843) became the proprietor of the Richmond (Surrey) Theatre in 1799 under the name of James Neville. In 1805, as James Winston, he purchased an interest in the Haymarket Theatre in London. From 1819 to 1927 he was acting manager of the Drury Lane Theater on behalf of the actor/manager and lessee, Robert William Elliston.

Box 1 Baker, Robert, town functionary To James Neville [Winston], Proprietor of Richmond Theatre, Surrey [n.p.], Oct. 1, 1799

1 p., a.l.s. Refusing permission to perform masquerade

Box 1 Reeve, Thomas, Jr., nephew of composer W. W. Reeve, (1715-1815) To Winston, Haymarket London, March 31, 1807

1 p., a.l.s. Asking to be engaged

Box 1 Faucit, I., Actor, Theatre Royal, Norwich To James Winston, Haymarket Theatre London, January 23, 1813

2 p., a.l.s. Faucit and wife will remain with Norwich Company.

Box 1 Bellamy, B. P., Theatre Royal, Norwich To Winston, Haymarket Theatre Dean Street, Soho, London, April 28, 1813

1 p., Regarding his engagement at the Haymarket for the 1814 season

Box 1 Penley, W., Windsor Envelope To Winston with letter To Mr. Dunn Drury Lane, London, July 8, 1826

1 p., a.l.s. Concerning a promissory Note from Mr. Elliston. Actor/manager Robert William Elliston (1774-1831) was the lessee and Dunn the treasurer of the Theater Royal, Drury Lane

Series IV: Theatrical letters in alphabetical order by sender

Box 1 Barnett, Edward To unknown [n.p.], June 6 [n.y.]

1 p., a.l.s. Concerning casting

Box 1 Bass, Charles, Actor-Manager, Perth, Scotland To unknown n. p., October 7, 1829

2 p., a.l.s. Requesting players

Box 1 Bucke, Charles (1781-1846), Dramatist and author, Suffolk To Mr. Wood, Bookseller London, May 23, 1802

1 p., a.l.s. Proposing the publication of a writer's Notebook

Box 1 Cushman, Charlotte, American actress To unknown [n.p.], [n.d.]

1 p., a.l.s. End of letter asking for a residence and to be met at the train. Cushman was acting in London 1845-1849

Box 1 Cuyler, Mrs. [Margaret], Actress To Mr. Peake [n.p.], September 19 [n.y.]

1 p., a.n.s. Requesting back pay. Peake was the treasurer for Drury Lane appointed by Richard Sheridan.

Box 1 Dobbs, J., Actor, Brighton Theatre To Mr. Abbott Theatre Royal, Dublin, November 21, 1824

2 p. a.l.s. Requesting employment

Box 1 Elizabeth, Margravine of Brandenburg-Anspach To unknown [n.p.], March 26, 1794

1 p., a.l.s. Receipt of a loan. The Margravine put on private theatrical events

Box 1 Emmet, Robert, New York To Charles MacReady (1793-1873), actor/manager London, October 6, 1841

3 p., a.l.s. Letter of introduction

Box 1 Fairbrother, Robert, Coburg Theatre To Peter Moore London, September 21, 1818

1 p., a.l.s. Theater job recommendation for Peter May

Box 1 Fawcett, Anne To Mr. Brandon Covent Garden Theatre, Nov 27, 1813

1 p., a.n.s. Pay Mr. Prickett by order of Mr. Harris [Thomas Harris, Manager]

Box 1 Foote, Sam G., Brighton To unknown [n.p.], June 2 [n.y.]

2 p., a.l.s. Invitation to visit Brighton

Box 1 Grove, D. To J. P. Harley, Actor, St. James Theatre London, [c.1835?]

1 p., a.l.s. Plans to see play at St. James. Harley was in the St. James Theatre Company for a short time c. 1835

Box 1 Hippolyte, N., Dublin To unknown n. p., August 2, 1845

2 p., a.l.s. Concerning terms of a lease

Box 1 Holcroft, Fanny To J. Cooper (1810-1870) London, [n.d.] [after 1820]

2 p., a.l.s. Complimenting his performance of Henry VIII at the Drury Lane. Cooper's first performance at Drury Lane took place November 1, 1820

Box 1 Inchbald, Elizabeth (1753-1891), playwright To Mrs. Pope. [Elizabeth (1744?-1797)] [n.p.], [n.d.] [c. 1791]

3 p., a.l.s. Is altering play in favor of the part Mrs. Pope plays. Possibly referring to Lady Eleanor Irwin, a part Mrs. Pope originated in the playEveryone Has His Fault.

Box 1 Killigrew, William To unknown [n.p.], [n.d.]

a.env.s., empty envelope

Box 1 Knight, Thomas (d. 1820), actor and playwright, Liverpool To unknown [n.p.], July 28, 1814

1 p., a.l.s. Unable to hire. Knight at the time was leasing the Liverpool Theatre

Box 1 Love, E. To Mr. Cooke [n.p.], [n.d.]

1 p., a.l.s. Asks for appointment to discuss a part

Box 1 MacDonald, Andrew (1755?-1790), Playwright To John Murray, bookseller London, May 18, 1788

1 p., a.n.s. Receipt for Vimonda

Box 1 Northcote, James To Mr. Cooke London, February 2, 1825

1 p., a.l.s. Wants to buy print of his playing in Shakespeare's King John

Box 1 Raymond, George To unknown London, March 24, 1830

2 p., a.l.s. Apology for the behavior of Miss Cubitt. Raymond is possibly the biographer of the actor/manager Robert William Elliston (1774-1831)

Box 1 Stephens, George (1800-1851), Dramatist, Hertfordshire To J. Webster [London], October 21, 1840

3 p., a.l.s. Asking Webster to advise his brother to produce Stephens' playThe Patriotnext season at the Haymarket. Quotes from a letter from the actor-manager William Charles MacReady. The brother in question may be Benjamin N. Webster (1797-1882) who was managing the Haymarket at the time when another brother, Frederick Webster, was stage manager.

Box 1 Tilbury, W. H. To T. F. Robson (1822?-1864), Actor, Haymarket London, December 13, 1853

3 p., a.l.s. Complimenting his performances. Robson played Desmarets inPlot and Passionby Tom Taylor and Jem Bags inWandering Minstrelby Henry Mayhew, both in 1853

Box 1 Webster, Benjamin N. (1797-1882), actor-manager, dramatist To Mr. Cooke, London, November 18, 1833

2 p., a.l.s. Will accomodate him at any time

Box 1 Welch, J., Buxton To Mr. Westmore London, July 15, 1801

2 p., a.l.s. Terms for engagement

Box 1 Yarnold, George, Theatre Royal, Worthing To unknown [London], September 26, 1824

1 p., a.l.s. Has Elliston signed articles for Yarnold? Elliston is actor-manager Robert William Elliston (1774-1831).

Series V: Non-theatrical letters

Box 1 Haslewood, William, solicitor To Lady Hamilton London, February 1, 1806

3 p., a.l.s. Statement of efforts on behalf of Lady Hamilton

Box 1 Moore, Thomas (1779-1852), Poet, Wiltshire, to Richard Milliken, Chichester, 1832 July 26

[n.p.], 1 p., a.l.s. Note: General news and progress of book.