Ira Aldridge—a black New Yorker—was one of nineteenth-century Europe’s greatest actors. He performed abroad for forty-two years, winning more awards, honors, and official decorations than any of his professional peers. He traveled widely, performing in more than two dozen countries, many of them in Eastern Europe, and his frequent public appearances made him the most visible black man in the world by mid- nineteenth century. Today Aldridge tends to be a forgotten figure, seldom mentioned in histories of British and European theater. Because his career demanded constant touring, he never remained in one major city long enough to establish a lasting reputation. More a comet than a fixed star, he therefore shines less brightly now in theater history, lost amidst more familiar exemplars of theatrical brilliance. This collection restores the luster to Aldridge’s reputation by examining his extraordinary achievements against all odds. The early essays offer biographical information, while later essays examine his critical and popular reception throughout the world. Taken together, these diverse approaches to Aldridge offer a fuller understanding and heightened appreciation of a remarkable man who had an exceptionally interesting life and a spectacular career.