On this day, 31 May – The British Newspaper Archive Blog

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On this day, 31 May

Joseph Grimaldi
Joseph Grimaldi in a production at Sadler’s Well, and, on the right, Grimaldi during his final performance at Drury Lane | Illustrated London News | 2 November 1975

Today, we’re highlighting one of many events that have occurred over the years on 31 May.

On 31 May 1837, the Clown Laureate of the Regency era, Joseph ‘Joey’ Grimaldi, died.

Joseph Grimaldi obituary
Joseph Grimaldi’s obituary | Morning Advertiser | 3 June 1837

Read the entire obituary

Grimaldi was considered the best clown of the nineteenth century. His work was influential in the role and appearance of clowns — he expanded the clown’s role in pantomimes and the harlequinade. He worked on several famous stages, including Drury Lane, Sadler’s Wells, and Covent Garden. Over the years, he and his legacy have received mention in the newspapers:

Grimaldi clown on eggshell
Joseph Grimaldi as a clown, painted on eggshell | Illustrated London News | 9 November 1956
Joseph Grimaldi pantomime
Joseph Grimaldi wrested the pantomime corn from Harlequin and wore it himself | Britannia and Eve | 1 December 1949

In the 27 December 1930 issue of The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, they ran an article titled ‘The Greatest of All Clowns: Recollections of Grimaldi’:

The Tatler printed several illustrations featuring Grimaldi in their ‘Pantomime in the Past’ piece on 6 December 1905:

Joseph Grimaldi pantomim
Joseph Grimaldi, pantomime in the past | The Tatler | 6 December 1905

 

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