Search - List of Books by Russell Thorndike
Arthur Russell Thorndike (6 February 1885, Rochester, Kent — 7 November 1972) was a British actor and novelist, best known for the Doctor Syn of Romney Marsh novels. Lesser known than his sister Dame Sybil Thorndike but just as versatile, Russell Thorndike's first love was for the pen and, following service in World War I, he devoted himself to writing.
Total Books: 28
He was born in Rochester, Kent, where his father had recently taken the position of canon at the cathedral. A student at St George's School, Windsor Castle, he was a chorister of St George's Chapel, an experience he later recounted in his book Children of the Garter (1937). At his suggestion, both he and Sybil (who once aspired to be a concert pianist) tried acting as a career in 1903. They became students at Ben Greet's Academy and two years later accompanied fellow members of the company on a North American tour, which included New York. He remained three-and-a-half years with the company, once giving three performances as Hamlet in three different versions of the text on the same day. He also toured in South Africa and Asia.
Around this time he completed his first novel of romantic adventure on Romney Marsh entitled Dr Syn. In 1914 he enlisted. His brother Frank, who once performed on stage, was killed in action. Russell was severely wounded at Gallipoli and discharged. He rejoined Ben Greet's theatre company and his sister at the Old Vic in 1916 where played in the Shakespearean classics -- King John, Richard II, and King Lear. Sybil played the Fool. Thorndike also acted with Sybil and her husband, Lewis Casson, in their touring repertory of melodramas. In 1922 he was applauded for his performance in Henrik Ibsen's first professional production of Peer Gynt at the Old Vic.
Thorndike married Rosemary Dowson, a daughter of the well-known actress Rosina Filippi, in 1918.
In film, Thorndike's appearances were infrequent. He played Macbeth (1922) in a silent version of the play opposite Sybil's Lady and also played leads in silent versions of other classic plays including Scrooge (1923) as Old Ebenezer, and The School for Scandal (1923) as Sir Peter Teazle. He ended his film career in minor priest roles for Laurence Olivier in Hamlet (1948) and Richard III (1955). Although Russell Thorndike appeared on the stage over four decades (including playing his own Dr. Syn character and entertaining audiences as Smee in ten revivals of Peter Pan, including the famous Scala Theatre version where Sir Donald Sinden doubled the roles of Mr Darling and Captain Hook), he felt a deeper fulfilment in writing, which would include the later work The House of Jeffreys.