Today is the 440th birthday of Ben Jonson.  Dickens performed as Captain Bobadil from Jonson’s play Every Man in His Humour in a few productions with the Amateur Players, including 1847 benefits for the author Leigh Hunt.

One audience member wrote, “Dickens was glorious.  He literally floated in braggadocio.  His air of supreme conceit and frothy pomp in the earlier scenes came out with prodigious force in contrast with the subsequent humiliation which I never saw so thoroughly expressed before.  It was a capital conception and acted to its height.”  Much more about the performance in  J. B. Van Amerongen’s The Actor in Dickens (1969).

Here is Dickens as Bobadil in a lithograph by T. H. Maguire after C. R. Leslie, mid-19th century

dickens-bobadil

And here’s another drawing of Dickens as the character:

charlesdickensasbobadil