Inevitably there is a certain resistance on the part of the American audience to biography of the English theatre. But Fanny Kemble's story overcame it- and this biography of the almost legendary giant of the English stage (recreated by his grandson with loving and meticulous scholarship) may find its own eager lovers of historic theatre. England's best loved and most colorful of actors was born John Brodribb, stuttering son of a Somerset farmer and these early days as well as the formative period when he played stock in the provinces provides background for the years of fame. His story is the story of the Victorian stage, and at the same time an often exciting narrative of personal events. Other famous figures cross his stage:- Ellen Terry, with whom his relationship is beautifully handled; Edwin Booth, Isabel Bateman, and of course Bernard Shaw, who crossed swords with Irving, from first acquaintance in Dublin, on to the point when admiration changed to enmity. Irving's life compassed the building up and tearing down of stage settings at the old Lyceum. He plunged into roles that ranged from Lear to Mephistophelen. His life and personality emerge in full perspective, shorn of the trappings of more legend.