Bartley Campbell

Bartley Theodore Campbell (August 12, 1843 – July 30, 1888) was an American playwright of the latter 19th century.

Early years

Campbell was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on August 12, 1843 to parents who had emigrated from Ireland. His writing career began at the age of fifteen in 1858, when he took a job as a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post. He later became a drama critic for the Pittsburgh Leader and eventually founded the Pittsburg Evening Mail and the Southern Monthly Magazine.

Playwright years

The White Slave

Campbell's playwright career began in 1871 with the play Through Fire, which ran for four weeks and motivated him to quit journalism. He wrote numerous plays for Pittsburgh's theatres which garnered him national attention.[1] He was quite successful and is often noted as the first American to earn a living solely as a playwright; however, there is some debate about whether or not he was truly the first.

His other plays include: Peril, Fate, Risks, or Insure Your Life (written for John Dillon), The Virginian, The Big Bonanza, My Partner, The Galley Slave, The White Slave, Siberia, and his final play, Paquita.

Final years

Campbell was declared insane in September 1886 and died in the State Hospital for the Insane in Middletown, New York on July 30, 1888.

He is buried in St. Mary Cemetery in Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville neighborhood.[2]

Although his works contain language and situations that would be considered politically incorrect today, theatre troops performing his plays can still be found over a century later.


  1. Conner, Lynne (2007). Pittsburgh In Stages: Two Hundred Years of Theater. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 39-40. ISBN 978-0-8229-4330-3. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
  2. "First in Lawrenceville". Lawrenceville Historical Society. Retrieved 2015-11-04.

External links

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