Quin, James

James Quin made his first appearance on stage at the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin, in 1712. He was then engaged for small parts at London’s Drury Lane Theatre, where his remarkable memory enabled him to fill in at short notice as Bajazet in Nicholas Rowe’s Tamerlane, in which he had a great success. In 1718 he went to Lincoln’s Inn Fields Theatre and remained there for 14 years; he was said to be ‘the most famous Falstaff of all time’. A noted swordsman, he was convicted of manslaughter for killing another actor in a duel, and at Lincoln’s Inn Fields he defended the stage with his sword against rioters. He went to Covent Garden Theatre in 1732 and became a leading performer there, but he returned to Drury Lane in 1734 and stayed there until 1741. His style was declamatory, very slow but impressive, and he always wore the same costume. In 1746 his supremacy was challenged by David Garrick, who espoused a new type of acting; and when the two played together at Covent Garden, Garrick triumphed. James Quin bore him no ill; they became friends and acted together at Dury Lane. In 1751 James retired to Bath.

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