He was an actor and playwright nicknamed “Little Man Dion”, born Dionysius Lardner Boucicault in Dublin, Ireland with his father being a French refugee and his mother Irish. He studied at University College School from the age of thirteen and then spent a year at the University of London before moving to Cheltenham to concentrate on acting.
He teamed up with the actor William Charles MacReady and made his stage debut in Bristol. He began to write plays around the same time and A Legend of the Devil’s Dyke, which was his first, debuted in Brighton, England, in 1838.
In 1841 he saw instant acclaim with this drama London Assurance that was staged at Covent Garden and he would continue his success with several more plays that included English adaptations of French works such as The Corsican Brothers.
In 1853 he moved to the United States for a 7 year stay and he would write many more plays while there. He returned to London with possibly his most successful dramatation Colleen Bawn, which would go onto to appear in every major UK and US city. He followed this with The Octoroon and an adaptation of Rip Van Winkle and then his acclaimed Arragh na Pogue, which would contain the protest song “The Wearing of Green” which forced him to flee to the United States.
He earned the reputation of being the “best stage Irishman of his time” and although he would occasionally travel back and fore between New York and London, he would eventually settle in the United States.
He died aged 69 in New York City with his wife at his side. His children Dion, Aubrey and Nina also became successful in the theatre.
The Wearing of the Green recordings
Boston Pops Orchestra
RCA 60746-2-RG (CD: Irish Night at the Pops)
Conductor – Arthur Fiedler
Eastman-Rochester Pops Orchestra
Mercury 434 376-2 (CD: Fennell Conducts the Music Of Leroy Anderson and Eric Coates)
Conductor – Frederick Fennell
Richard Hayman and His Orchestra
Naxos 8.555016 (CD: Irish Rhapsody)
Naxos 8.990018 (CD: Irish Rhapsody)