Daly, Augustin (1838 -1899)
American playwright, critic, theatre manager and director, John Augustin Daly was born in Plymouth, North Carolina. His father was a sea captain, who died when Daly was still a child, and his mother a soldier’s daughter. After his father’s death, his mother moved the family to Norfolk, Virginia. In 1859 at age 21, he started his career as drama critic for the Sunday Courier a position he later held at four other New York City newspapers. In 1862 he turned to playwriting by adapting S.H. von Mosenthal ’s Deborah into Leah, the Forshaken. After its first production at The Boston Museum, it moved to New York where it was an immediate success. This was followed by the melodrama Under the Gaslight . In 1869 he leased the Fifth Avenue on Twenty-fourth Street, New York and formed a theatrical company with a string of successful major hits. In 1873 the Fifth Avenue Theatre was destroyed by fire and Daly’s company disbanded. He then took over the Globe Theatre and renamed it the Fifth Avenue Theatre. He went on to manage several other New York Theatres, including the Grand Opera, and in 1879 he restored yet another old playhouse (old Wood’s Museum) near Thirtieth Street and named it after himself – Daly’s on Broadway. He took his entire company on tours across the country as well as England, France and Germany. In 1888 he began construction of Daly’s Theatre in London. He opened its doors two years later with his famous production of The Taming of the Shrew, which also played Stratford–upon-Avon, and was the first performance of the play given there. As a playwright Daly’s claimed authorship of over ninety plays, most of which were either adapted from foreign sources, or from Shakespeare and eighteenth-century English dramatists. He was assisted by his brother Joseph, though this collaboration was kept a secret. Daly had a keen eye for spotting talent and was responsible for developing the careers of over seventy-five actors. He died in New York in 1899. A portion of Daly’s library was sold at auction 14 October 1878 by George A. Leavitt in New York. The remainder was sold by public auction after his death in 1900.