Samuel Foote, Cornishman, actor, playwright

Samuel Foote, actor and playwright with a gift for mimicry which made him a figure of both fear and delight on the London stage.

Samuel Foote was born at a house in Boscawen Street, Truro on January 27, 1720 and died October 21, 1777 in Kent.

Very little can be found about his life in Cornwall. His father is neutrally described as "a man of good family and position". His mother, Eleanor Goodere, whom he is said to have resembled, has again no findable references.

Samuel Foote must have left Cornwall at a fairly young age, as the only clues to his childhood ae that he was educated at the collegiate school at Worcester, and at Worcester College, Oxford. However he left Oxford without taking his degree.

About the time when Foote came of age, he inherited his first fortune through the murder of his uncle, Sir John Dinely Goodere. Bart., by his brother, Captain Samuel Goodere.

On leaving Oxford, he was destined for the law, and entered chambers at the Temple. However the nearby Grecian Coffee-house was more of an attraction than the law. From there he progressed to the Bedford Coffee-house in Covent Garden, and there made his acquaintance with the theatrical world who gathered there.

After he had run through two fortunes (the second of which he appears to have inherited at his father's death) and had then passed through severe straits, he made his first appearance on the actual stage in 1744.

He is said to have married Worcestershire woman. He affirmed himself that he was married to his washer-woman. However no traces of his marriage can be found.

Foote's chief power as an actor lay in his extraordinary gift of mimicry. He wrote a number of plays. The following is a list of Foote's farces or "comedies" as he calls them, mostly in three, some in two acts. The date of production, and the character originally performed by Foote, are added to the title of each:

The Knights (1748: Hartop, who assumes the character of Sir Penurious Trifle); Taste (1752), in which part of the Diversions is incorporated; The Englishman in Paris (1753: Young Buck); The Englishman returned from Paris (1756: Sir Charles Buck); The Author (1757: Cadwallader); The Minor (1760: Smirk and Mrs. Cole); The Liar (1762); The Orators (1762: Lecturer); Thee Mayor of Garratt (1763: Major Sturgeon and Matthew Mug); The Patron (1764: Sir Thomas Lofty and Sir Peter Peppercorn); The Commissary (1765: Mr. Zac. Fungus); The Devil upon Two Sticks (1768: Devil, alias Dr. Hercules Hellebore); The Lame Lover (1770: Sir Luke Limp); The Maid of Bath (1971: Mr. Flint); The Nabob (1772: Sir Matthew Mite); The Bankrupt (1773: Sir Robert Riscounter); The Cozeners (1774: Mr. Aircastle); The Capuchin, a second version of The Trip to Calais, forbidden by the censor (1776: O'Donovan). His dramatic works were collected in 1763-68. Foot's biography may be read in W. ("Conversation") Cooke's Memoirs of Samuel Foote (3 vols, 1805), which contain, amidst other matter, a large collection of his good things and of anecdotes concerning him, besides two of his previously unpublished occasional pieces (with the Tragedy à la mode, part of the Diversions, in which Foote appeared as Fustian).

He introduced the nonsense text "Grand Panjandrum" into the english language. Another of his quotations was "He is not only dull himself, but the cause of dullness in others." More Samuel Foote quotations

The Plays of Samuel Foote

Dramatic Work of Samuel Foote


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