Edwin Thomas Booth was an American actor who toured throughout the United States and the major capitals of Europe, performing Shakespearean plays. His achievements are often overshadowed by his relationship with his younger brother, actor John Wilkes Booth.
After John Wilkes Booth’s assassination of President Lincoln in April 1865, the infamy associated with the Booth name forced Edwin Booth to abandon the stage for many months. Edwin, who had been feuding with John Wilkes before the assassination, disowned him afterward, refusing to have John’s name spoken in his house. Edwin returned to the stage at the Winter Garden Theatre in January 1866. playing the title role in Hamlet. Theatrical historians consider him the greatest American actor, and the greatest Prince Hamlet of the 19th century.
Toward the end of his career, Booth founded the Players Club on Gramercy Park South to which he deeded his home his works of art, theatrical memorabilia and extensive personal library. The Players Club presented the statue of Booth as Hamlet to the park in 1918.