J. T. Grein

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Jacob Thomas "Jack" Grein (generally referred to as J. T. Grein; 11 October 1862 – 22 June 1935) was a British impresario and drama critic of Dutch origin who helped establish the modern theatre in London.[1]

Grein in 1898


Born and raised in Amsterdam, Grein moved to London in 1885 and was naturalised as a British subject in 1895. His greatest achievement was founding the Independent Theatre Society in 1891. Their first production was Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts in 1891. Their performances were held as "private" subscription performances, which allowed them to present plays that were not officially licensed by the Lord Chamberlain's Office. In 1892 the Society produced George Bernard Shaw's first play, Widowers' Houses.[2] Grein married the actress Alice Augusta Greeven in 1904; she later wrote and edited a biography of him under the pseudonym Michael Orme.[1] She also wrote a number of plays as Michael Orme and as Alix Greeven.[3][4]

The Greins worked continually to introduce European drama to London. They founded the German Theatre in London Programme in 1900, hosting German actors and directors such as Max Behrend and Hans Andresen in productions of German drama (performed in German). This programme lasted, in various forms, until 1908.[2]

The influences were not all one way: in April 1907, Grein organised a visit by Herbert Beerbohm Tree's company – based at His Majesty's Theatre – to Hanover and Berlin. The visit was made at the personal invitation of the German Emperor; the imperial railway train transported them from the Hook of Holland. Grein and Tree were awarded the Order of the Red Eagle for their successful tour.[5]

In 1930, he founded 'The People's National Theatre', with Nancy Price.

Grein died of a heart attack at his London home at the age of 72.[2]


  1. ^ a b Wearing, J. P. "Grein, Jacob Thomas (1862–1935)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edition, January 2008, accessed 12 March 2013 (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  2. ^ a b c "Mr. J. T. Grein", The Times, 24 June 1935, p. 9
  3. ^ Nicoll, Allardyce (1973). English Drama, 1900-1930: The Beginnings of the Modern Period. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 688. ISBN 978-0-521-12947-3.
  4. ^ "Michael Orme". Great War Theatre. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  5. ^ Dekker, Nicholas The Modern Catalyst:German Influences on the British Stage pp.23–4 (Ohio State University, 2007)


  • Carlson, Marvin. The Théâtre-Libre, The Freie Bühne, The Independent Theatre: A Comparative Study. Diss. Cornell University, 1961.
  • Schoonderwoerd, N. H. G. J. T. Grein: Ambassador of the Theatre, 1862–1935. A Study in Anglo-Continental Theatrical Relations. Assen: Van Gorcum, 1963.
  • Orme, Michael [Alice Grein]. J. T. Grein: The Story of a Pioneer. London: John Murray, 1936.
  • Encyclopædia Britannica