Special Collections & Archives

The Melville family


George Melville, 1824-1898

Andrew Melville I

Andrew Melville II

Minnie & Kate Melville

Fred & Walter Melville

George Melville

The Melvilles were a thriving theatrical family. The dynasty started with George Melville (1824-1898), a Shakespearian actor, who is reputed to have run away from home at the age of nine to join the travelling theatrical troupe of John Richardson.


His son Andrew Melville (1853-1896) was an actor and theatre proprietor in many towns and cities all over the country.

Frederick and Walter

Andrew's two eldest sons Frederick and Walter carried on the tradition, acting in, managing, directing, producing and writing plays. They shared the proprietorship of the Lyceum Theatre in the Strand putting on their own plays, many of which were never published, and staging elaborate pantomimes, the titles of which they tried to keep secret every year until the last possible moment.

Edith, Minnie, Kate, Beatrice, and Andrew II

Their sisters, Edith, Minnie, Kate and Beatrice were all actresses, and their brother Andrew Melville II (1882-1938) was also a successful actor and theatre manager and producer.

Andrew III

His son, Andrew Melville III (1912-1988), was also associated with the theatre, and was married to the actress Joan Matheson who appeared in Mrs. Dales' Diary.

Andrew III was the last Melville to be associated with the theatre. He retired in 1950. Seventeen years later he was inspired to write a book about his own family by reading the biographical work "Neath the Mask" by a descendant of another theatrical family, John East. John East himself, and Joan, Andrew's wife helped Andrew to make copious notes and to collect much family and theatrical memorabilia on the Melvilles . A first draft was eventually produced tentatively entitled "The Melvilles of melodrama". Unfortunately the book has never been published. A letter exists from Harraps declining to publish it on the grounds that there was not enough interest in matters of this kind. Andrew III died in 1988.

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Last Updated: 21/11/2012