Item #8838 Burnett's Evening of Fun…Mr. Burnett, Well-known on both sides of the Atlantic as one of the finest elocutionists and a most amusing mimic!
Burnett's Evening of Fun…Mr. Burnett, Well-known on both sides of the Atlantic as one of the finest elocutionists and a most amusing mimic!

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Burnett's Evening of Fun…Mr. Burnett, Well-known on both sides of the Atlantic as one of the finest elocutionists and a most amusing mimic!

[N.p., United States, 1863]. Illustrated broadside, 18” x 7.5” plus margins, mounted on paperboard. Pencil date reading “1863” next to text. CONDITION: Good, old folds now flattened, lightly printed in one area but entirely legible.

A scarce broadside advertising a performance by a noted American humorist and author, “Mr. Burnett…the only living man that can, at the same time, laugh on one side of his face, and cry upon the other!”

Mr. Alfred (so-called Alf) Burnett was known as a “fine elocutionist” whose “changes of feature are so entire as to defy recognition from his most intimate friends.” This “Evening of Fun” in 1863 featured a melange of “Oratory, Mimicry…Comic Debates with Wonderful Imitations which have been received everywhere with unbounded applause!” Burnett performed several acts in which he played multiple roles at once. In one of these, highlighting his “Wonderful Metamorphoses of Feature,” he donned the garbs of “MR. SMILEY, who is always laughing; MR. CRABBED, always Dismal; and MR. NEVERWELL, the Invalid;” then, in a “Great Comic Debate” between a judge and a preacher, Burnett introduced “in himself without aid or deception, TWO PERSONS UPON THE STAGE AT ONE TIME.” Not only did Burnett act as two or three men at once, but for his signature performance he presented “his wonderful rapid transformations of eight different characters, in a laughable scene entitled NIP AND TUCK: or, The Heart-Broken Lover,” wherein he changed his “dress and character…so complete as to have been acknowledged by the unanimous voice of the press as unequaled.” Tickets to the show were twenty-five cents a head, and at the door, Burnett’s Book of Comic Poems as Recitations could be found for sale. 

Alfred Burnett (1824–1884) was born in Utica but spent most of his life in Cincinnati, “his parents removing thereto from Utica, New York, in 1836” (Reed). A well-known elocutionist throughout the mid-nineteenth century, Burnett performed in Cincinnati, Lawrence, Philadelphia, Camden, and across the Atlantic in London, often on his own, but sometimes as part of P.T. Barnum’s museum. He was said to stand “without a peer in his peculiar line of declamation and oratory” and sometimes got the attention of the “American literati” (Reed), publishing two books, Incidents of the War: Humorous, Pathetic, and Descriptive and Book of Comic Poems and Recitations, both in 1863 and advertised in the present broadside. 

No examples recorded in OCLC. 

REFERENCES: Background on Burnett drawn from Reed, Enos. “Sketch of the Author,” from Incidents of the War: Humorous, Pathetic, and Descriptive, by Alf Burnett (Cincinnati: Rickey & Carroll, 1863), pp. 1–4; additional background from The Evening Telegraph (Philadelphia, August 29, 1867), p. 8; The Marshall County Republican (Plymouth, Indiana, April 18, 1872), p. 5; The Rocky Mountain News (Denver, April 5, 1884), p. 6; The Morning Post (Camden, October 23, 1879), p. 1; The New York Times (New York, July 28, 1862), p. 5. 

Item #8838

Price: $550.00

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