2 AUGUST 1935, Page 30


By A. E. W. Mason

Mr. Mason's book must be one of the last of its kind that will be written : the race of actor-managers, whether for better or for worse, is now virtually extinct, and few of those who were famous in their day have been left unehronicled. But Mr. Mason's biography of Sir George Alexander- (Mac- millan, 10s. 6d.) must be welcomed, for if any actor-manager deserved a memorial volume it. was he, and this account of his career is valuable also for the many interesting side- lights which it gives of the London theatre in the 'nineties and during the first fifteen years of the present century. George Alexander (or, to give him his proper! name, George Alexander Gibb Samson) was born at Reading in 1858, the son of a Scottish commercial traveller ; he, was educated chiefly in Scotland, and at the age :of seventeen he entered the drapery business as a clerk in , a London office. Four years of commerce were enough for him, and in 1879 he took to the stage. He pursued his.career with great solemnity, bringing to every part that he studied " an intense sincerity, a determination to extract fron it and show all it had to show." When he became a manager lie similarly took an exemplary amount of trouble 'over everything that came under his supervision—from the choice of an actor to play a leading part down to the smallest detail of theatre manage- ment. His determination was reinforced by a rare acumen, and as a result the St. James's Theatre under his management enjoyed an enviable prosperity. In addition to his work in the theatre, Alexander as he grew older was continually assuming other responsibilities he .laboured for theatrical charities, a considerable amount of time was absorbed by the London County Council, and lie had parliamentary aspira- tions : in the end his life was really cut short by overwork. Mr. Mason is sympathetic to Alexander,- but only rarely uncritically so, mid his book is a very adequate memorial to his subject's strenuous career.