Herbert Beerbohm Tree

English actor and theatre manager (1853-1917)

Herbert Draper Beerbohm (17 December 18522 July 1917) was an English actor-manager and wit, whose professional name was Herbert Beerbohm Tree. He was knighted in 1909.

Every man is a potential genius until he does something.


  • People are too apt to treat God as if he were a minor royalty.
    • "The Importance of Humour in Tragedy: Presidential Address Delivered at the Birmingham Midland Institute, 1915", Nothing Matters, and Other Stories (1917) p. 207.
  • Ladies, just a little more virginity, if you don't mind.
    • Remembered by Alexander Woollcott in his Shouts and Murmurs (1922) p. 87.
    • To actresses playing the ladies-in-waiting in a production of Henry VIII, "peering at them plaintively through his monocle".

Beerbohm Tree (1956)

Quotes of Tree from Beerbohm Tree (1956) by Hesketh Pearson
  • My poor fellow, why not carry a watch?
    • Page 110.
    • "To a man who was staggering in the street under the weight of a grandfather clock".
  • Every man is a potential genius until he does something.
    • Page 110.
  • Never say a humorous thing to a man who does not possess humour: he will always use it in evidence against you.
    • Page 110.
  • Sirs, I have tested your machine. It adds a new terror to life and makes death a long-felt want.
    • Page 183
    • His reply to a gramophone company who had asked for a testimonial.
  • It is difficult to live up to one's posters…When I pass my name in such large letters I blush, but at the same time instinctively raise my hat.
    • Page 188.
  • It depends on each and every one of me.
    • Page 192.

About Herbert Beerbohm Tree

  • A charming fellow, and so clever: he models himself on me.
    • Oscar Wilde, quoted in Hesketh Pearson Beerbohm Tree (1956) p. 2.
  • As far as I could discover, the notion that a play could succeed without any further help from the actor than a simple impersonation of his part never occurred to Tree.
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