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The Theatrical Life of George Henry Boker

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Thomas M. Kitts

Born in an age that discouraged serious dramatists and to a prominent Philadelphia family who tried to dissuade him from a literary and theatrical career, George Henry Boker (1823-1890) persevered to contribute significantly to the growth of American theater. He not only wrote more quality plays than any other nineteenth-century American dramatist, but he also helped to develop a native playwriting profession, especially through his efforts on the 1856 Dramatic Authors' Bill. Although many consider his Francesca da Rimini the best American drama of the century, Boker has been largely ignored in the twentieth century. This study, which explores his achievement in the context of his times, argues for his reconsideration.