Special Collections & Archives



Arthur Williams: a chronology

Arthur Williams was born in Islington on 9 December 1844. He had a brother, Fred, who may also have been involved in the theatre.

Williams had no formal theatrical training and had been in business as a law stationer before going on the stage. He first appeared in a walk-on part as Alfred Martelli in "The Corsican Brothers" at the Theatre Royal, Gravesend, on 26 December 1861 at the age of 17. He was very hard up, and, after playing in Dover, had to walk to London carrying his possessions in a small carpet bag. He subsequently played at Margate, Leeds, Birmingham, Bury St. Edmunds and the Isle of Man on very low wages. Seven years after his first part came his first performance on the London stage, at the St James's Theatre.

He married Emily Spiller. His nephew was Fred Emney. In 1914 he contributed his reminiscences to The Stage. He died on 15 September 1915, aged 70.

Work in the theatre

Arthur Williams
DateLocation Roles
1868, 26th December St. James's Theatre Thomas in The Secret
Julius Crandust in Glitter
Baron Factotum in a burlesque of Sleeping Beauty
Moses in The School for Scandal
Crockett in Red Hands
1871 Royalty Theatre Played in The Gay City, Nell Gwynne, Cupid in Waiting
1880, October Imperial Theatre Sir Mincing Lane in Billee Taylor
1881, May Royalty Theatre Onesimus Epps in The Member for Slocum
1881 Olympic Theatre Sir Whiffle Whaffle in Claude Duval
1882, April Gaiety Theatre as Amaranth CVIII in Lord Bateman
1886, March Novelty Theatre Title role in burlesque Oliver Grumble
1886, September Gaiety Theatre Lurcher in Dorothy
1888 Prince of Wales's Lurcher in Dorothy
1889, April Lyric Theatre Dinniver in Doris
1889, November
Corporal Bundy in The Red Hussar
1890, October Gaiety Theatre Captain Ziniga in Carmen Up-to-Data
1892 Drury lane Tom Blinker in The Prodigal Daughter
1894-1896 Gaiety Theatre Mr. Hooley in The Shop Girl

in The Circus Girl
1895 Court Theatre Bob Acres in The Rivals
1898-1901 Comedy Theatre Played with Charles Hawtry in various comedy parts in Lord & Lady Algy, The Cuckoo, A Message from Mars
1901 Criterion Theatre In The Undercurrent
1902, January Princess's Theatre Dudley Mortimer in The Broken Melody
1902 - Strand Theatre Mr. Pineapple in A Chinese Honeymoon (playing the part 700 times)
1904, June
Crookie Scrubs in Sergeant Brue
1905, September Haymarket Theatre In On the Love Path
1905 - 1906 Drury Lane Baron Bluff in pantomime
1906, May Vaudeville Theatre In The Belle of Mayfair
In That Brute Simmonds
1908, March Hicks Theatre Joachim XIII in A Waltz Dream
1908, December New Theatre Re-appeared in his old part of Lurcher In Dorothy
1909, October Strand Theatre Zopf in The Merry Peasant
1910, December Vaudeville Theatre Cornelius Scroop in The Girl in the Train
1911, May New Theatre Touchstone in As you Like it
1911, June 27th His Majesty's Theatre Sir Walter Raleigh in a Gala performance of The Critic
1911, December New Theatre Percival in Sweet Nell of Old Drury completing his 50th year on the stage on Boxing Night
1912 - 1913
Toured with Sweet Nell...
1913, May Theatre Royal, Portsmouth Master Blakey in Peg & the Prentice
1914, September Strand Theatre Jaikes in The Silver King
1914, November Vaudeville Perkyn Middlewick in Our Boys



  • Leave it to me
  • Funnibone's Fix
  • Oh! What a day


  • Christmas Chimes
  • The Secret of a Life

Details taken from Who's Who in the Theatre, 1916-, pp 685-6; The Theatre, v.XI, May 1888, p. 279.

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