Ira Aldridge: Theatrical Trailblazer

Inscription by Ira Aldridge in the visitors’ book at Shakespeare’s birthplace, dated May 2, 1851
On the same day that he appeared at the old Royal Shakespearean Theatre in The Black Doctor, May 2, 1851, Aldridge signed the guest book during a visit to Shakespeare’s birthplace with his wife Margaret and son Ira Daniel Aldridge. Margaret’s home is listed as “London,” while Ira Aldridge notes his as Senegal, Africa, in keeping with his invented life story that he was a Senegalese prince in exile. Below his name he inscribed a line spoken by the character of the Prince of Morocco in act II of The Merchant of Venice: “Mislike me not for my complexion, the shadowed livery of the burnish’d sun.”

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