Actor; born at Warsaw May 15, 1818; died at Dresden Feb. 1, 1872. In his boyhood he earned a precarious living as itinerant correspondent for various firms, alternating this occupation with that of sign-writer; and then he obtained employment in the editorial office of the "Gazeta Warszawska," where his intelligence attracted the attention of the editor, Dr. Krugski, and where he rose to be dramatic critic. But the stage itself had such attractions for the youth that he began studying at the Warsaw Theatrical School (1835). On Nov. 30, 1837, Dawison appeared at the Polish Theater as Gustav in "Zwei Galeerenstréflinge," and he obtained engagements in 1839 at Warsaw and Wilna. On Aug. 9, 1841, he made his German début as Baron Sternhelm in "Das Letzte Abenteuer," following with Ferdinand in Schiller's "Kabale und Liebe" and Masham in "Un Verre d'Eau." Dawison remained in Lemberg for five years, going thence in 1846 to Breslau, Brieg, and Stettin.

Bogumil Dawison.

His next appearance was on Feb. 13, 1847, at Hamburg, where a year later he married Wanda von Ostaja-Starzewska. In 1849 he starred in Vienna,and on Nov. 6 signed a six-year contract with Heinrich Laube. The latter developed Dawison's latent powers and made him the greatest character-actor on the German stage.

Two years before his contract with Laube had expired, Dawison went to the Hof-Theater in Dresden, where he became the rival of the local favorite, Emil Devrient. Numerous bickerings ensued, and Dawison departed for Munich, whence he went to Berlin (1855-56). He appeared in Paris at the celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of Schiller's birth (1859), and on reciting the entire third act of "Don Carlos" was acclaimed by the French as the greatest exponent of classic declamation.

In 1864 Dawison starred Germany, and in 1866 he went to the United States. He played seventy-six times while there, earning for himself $50,000. On his return his memory gave way, and a few months later he became a raving maniac. He died while in a paroxysm.

His best rôles were Mephisto, Franz Moor, Marc Antony, Hamlet, Alba, Don Carlos, Charles V., Riccaut de la Marlinière, Harleigh, Stephan, Foster, Molière, Morinelli, Richard III., Lear, and Othello. For the Polish stage Dawison wrote some dramas and comedies, among them "Nasz Antos," Warsaw, 1835, and "Noc i Poranek" (after Bulwer's novel "Night"), Warsaw, 1844.

  • A. von Wurzbach, Lexikon. xi., Vienna, 1871;
  • Ludwig Hartmann, in the Deutscher Bühnen-Almanach, pp. 128-139, Berlin, 1873;
  • Allgemeine Deutsche Biographic, iv. 787-789;
  • Encyklopedja Powszechna, iv., s.v., Warsaw, 1899.
H. R. E. Ms.
Images of pages