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Ira Aldridge in the Collections

DR185/3 - Visitors book for Shakespeare's Birthplace

Ira Aldridge visited Shakespeare's Birthplace and signed the visitor book on 2 May 1851. In it he wrote the following:

Ira F. Aldridge, The African Tragedian, (Senegal) Africa

"Mislike me not for my complexion, the shadowed livery of the burnish'd sun"

His wife, Margaret, and son, Daniel, are also entered with address as London. 

This entry in the visitor book is brief yet incorporates many aspects of Aldridge's life and personality. It is interesting that he has written Senegal as his address or place of origin and that he calls himself the African Tragedian. He also includes a quote from the Merchant of Venice. The line is spoken by the Prince of Morocco in the play and Aldridge's use of it in this entry perhaps points to some of the criticism and prejudice he battled against, as well as how meaningful he found Shakespeare's words.