John Hollingshead

John Hollingshead

English theater impresario, journalist and writer
Date of Birth: 09.09.1827
Country: Great Britain

  1. Early Life and Career
  2. Journalism and Writing Career
  3. Gaiety and Later Years

John Hollingshead: An English Theatrical Impresario, Journalist, and Writer

John Hollingshead was an English theatrical impresario, journalist, and writer of the second half of the 19th century. He is best known for his work as the first manager of the famous London theatre, Gaiety. Many also remember John as an innovative producer - in 1871, he brought together William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, resulting in their first joint creation, the musical extravaganza 'Thespis'.

Early Life and Career

Hollingshead was born in Hoxton, London, England, in the family of Henry Randall Hollingshead. In the early 1850s, John worked as a librarian at a textile company while publishing political essays on financial and social topics. Around the same time, he started a clothing trade and, together with a friend, began publishing a cheap newspaper called 'The Mail'. Although the newspaper was unsuccessful, John enjoyed the work. In 1854, he left the clothing trade to fully concentrate on his writing career. His mentors on his challenging path to becoming a master reporter were Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray.

Journalism and Writing Career

In 1861, on behalf of 'The Morning Post', Hollingshead reported on the tragic events during the Great London Famine. John continued to write essays, stories, and critical reviews. In 1864, he started working for the magazine 'Punch', primarily creating political essays on social reforms. It is known that Hollingshead was a strong supporter of Jeremy Bentham's ideas. One of his most famous works, the essay 'The City of Unlimited Paper', gained particular popularity during the financial panic of 1857.

From the 1850s to the 1870s, John published a series of books on various topics. These included collections of political essays, humorous stories, compilations of his journalistic works, and narratives about London life. In the 1860s, Hollingshead first tried his hand at theatrical management. With his help, the Alhambra Theatre was created, where he worked from 1865 to 1868. As the theater manager, John was also involved in the production of musicals and ballet performances. It was largely thanks to Hollingshead that Londoners became acquainted with the cancan, an entertainment previously unknown to them. Additionally, John was one of the first theater managers to refuse payment for programs and coat check.

Gaiety and Later Years

From Alhambra, Hollingshead moved to Gaiety, where his work in the theater is considered one of his major achievements to this day. It was under his management that the stage was first illuminated by electricity. In the 1880s, John returned to his writing career, focusing mainly on theater reviews of England's most current theatrical productions.

In the 1890s, Hollingshead shifted his focus to writing memoirs, but he continued to engage in theater reviews. In 1892, his book 'The Story of Leicester Square' was published, combining historical, geographical, and architectural research on London from early times to the present day.

In 1895, John wrote the book 'My Lifetime', in which he told the story of his life and career to his readers. He passed away in London in 1904 at the age of 77.

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