Lionel Brough

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Lionel Brough (1836–1909)[1] was a British comedian and actor.


Brough was born in Pontypool, Wales, on 10 March 1836. His father was Barnabas Brough, a brewer, publican, wine merchant and later dramatist, and his mother Frances Whiteside, a poet and novelist. His brothers, William Brough and Robert Brough (the father of actress Fanny Brough), were also playwrights, and his brother John Cargill Brough was a science writer.

He began working as a journalist while performing as an amateur. Later he turned professional, largely performing in Liverpool in the 1860s. Moving to London as a company member of the new Queen's Theatre, Long Acre in 1867, went on to renown for his roles in Shakespeare, contemporary comedies, and classics, especially as "Tony Lumpkin" in She Stoops to Conquer.

He was a leading comic actor in London during the 1870s and 1880s and, although not trained in music, did a number of operettas in the 1880s and 1890s. He continued to contribute popular performances into the 20th century and ended his career in comedy roles with Herbert Beerbohm Tree's company.

Brough died at his home, Percy Villa, in South Lambeth on 8 November 1909.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

He was brought to South Africa by Luscombe Searelle in 1889, and made his first appearance in Cape Town's Exhibition Theatre in The Paper Chase (Thomas) on 26 August, 1889. He played "James Busby" , a role he had created in the play's original performance at Toole's Theatre, London, on 9 July, 1888.

He then toured the country with the Searelle Company with a season of plays, that included The Paper Chase (Thomas), She Stoops to Conquer (Goldsmith), Paul Pry (Jerrold), Modern Wives (Warren), Retiring (Williamson), Miriam's Crime (Craven), Yeoman's Service (Pemberton), Off Duty (Pemberton), No. 1 Round the Corner (Brough), Well Matched (Havard) and Our Flat (Musgrave).

He ended his visit to the country with a few nights at the Vaudeville Theatre (with Our Flat), before returning to England.


D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1923. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 300, 387-8

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