William Dunlap



  • (1766 - 1839) US dramatist and theater manager. As a youngman, Dunlap was sent to study art in England, where he developed hisenthusiasm for the theater and became a great admirer of Kemble andSarah Siddons. He returned to America in 1787 and began to write plays.The first of his works to be performed, The Father; or AmericanShandyism, was produced at the John Street Theatre in 1789.

    Several of his comedies were performed by the AmericanCompany and in 1796 he entered into partnership with the company'smanagers, Lewis Hallam and John Hodgkinson. Dunlap boosted the company'sfortunes by introducing Joseph Jefferson as the leading actor.The company dominated the US stage for some twenty years under Dunlap'smanagement. In 1798, after Hallam's retirement, Dunlap and Hodgkinsonopened the Park Theatre, New York, with a production of AsYou Like It. Dunlap used the theater to produce many of his ownplays and adaptations including André, the first UStragedy, which dealt with the War of Independence. He also leasedthe Haymarket Theatre in Boston, to which many of his plays transferred.

    In 1805 Dunlap was declared bankrupt, but continued his involvementwith the theater, first as an assistant stage manager at the ParkTheatre and later touring with his own plays again. In 1832 he publisheda History of the American Theatre.