CARTWRIGHT, William 1607-1686. Actor and bookseller. Cartwright is a significant figure in the history of the English theatre in that he acted on the Jacobean stage from the 1620s until the closure of the theatres by the Puritans in 1642, and he returned to a theatrical career when the theatres were re-opened at the Restoration in 1660. During the latter period he acted in supporting rather than leading roles, while maintaining his second career as a bookseller, by which he had supported himself during the Civil War and the Commonwealth. Acting was in his blood, as his father, also William, had been a colleague and friend of Edward Alleyn, and dined with him at Dulwich in the early 1620s. The younger Cartwright was an avid picture collector, possessing 239 paintings at the time of his death. It was his father’s friendship with Alleyn which no doubt led the son, in the absence of heirs, to bequeath his pictures and the bulk of his estate to Alleyn’s College of God’s Gift at Dulwich, where Alleyn’s picture collection was already housed. Only 77 paintings currently in the ownership of Dulwich Picture Gallery can now be confidently ascribed to Cartwright’s bequest.

Hilary Rosser