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date: 24 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Shakespeare’s tragedies fell out of favour with American audiences in the second half of the nineteenth century, following the 1861‒5 Civil War. Exceptionally, Julius Caesar—as a play about revolutionary senators attempting to restore their republic by assassinating their ‘monarch’—gained in popularity after the war. Junius Brutus Booth’s Cassius was highly regarded by Walt Whitman; a decade after Booth’s death his sons were the most celebrated Shakespearean tragedians in the United States, and in 1864 the three Booth brothers performed together in Julius Caesar. The play’s politics became a reality when John Wilkes Booth assassinated the American president, justifying his shooting of Abraham Lincoln with the claim that the President, like Caesar, aspired to be a king. In the following years Edwin Booth produced and acted his own script for Julius Caesar before audiences intrigued by how Shakespeare’s play reflected their own recent history.

Keywords: revolution, script, Kemble, Booth, Wilkes Booth, Shakespeare in Central Park

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