Harley Granville-Barker



  • (1877 - 1946) British actor, director, playwright, andcritic, who exerted a major influence on British theater in the early20th century. He began his career as an actor, touring the provinceswith various companies and appearing with William Poel and Mrs PatrickCampbell amongst others. In 1900 he appeared as Marchbanks in theLondon premier of Candida, thus beginning a life-long associationwith the works of George Bernard Shaw. In the same year hedirected the first major production of one of his own plays, TheMarrying of Ann Leete. In 1904, with J. E. Vedrenne,he took over the Royal Court Theatre, where they staged asuccessful season of Shaw's plays together with works by Ibsen andYeats. The Royal Court seasons of 1904 - 07 were largely responsiblefor establishing Shaw as a major force in the British theater. Granville-barker'sown plays, which include The Voysey Inheritance (1905), Waste(1907), and The Madras House (1910), are written in a social-realiststyle much influenced by the early Shaw.

    By 1907 he had largely abandoned acting to concentrate ondirecting. He was particularly admired for his productions of Shakespeare,which were more than usually faithful to the original texts. Aftermarrying a wealthy divorcée in 1918, Granville-Barker retiredfrom the stage and devoted himself to writing and lecturing. In 1919he helped to found the British Drama League, of which he was chairmanfor 13 years. His many works of criticism include his famous Prefacesto Shakespeare (1927 - 46).