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Person Detail: John Howard Payne

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General Information:
Full Name: John Howard Payne
(1791-1852) Playwright, poet, actor. John Payne was born in New York. He wrote over 65 plays. At 14, while working in a New York counting house, he spent his spare hours editing and published the Thespian Mirror, a journal of events and gossip in the theatrical world of the time. Mr. Payne's first play "Julia;" or, "The Wanderer," was presented at the Park Theatre, New York on Feb. 7, 1806. Mr. Payne went to Britain to pursue an acting career, but did not succeed. He had to write to support himself. In 1820, he leased the Sadlers Wells Theatre, plunging himself into debt and going to debtors prison. He adapted plays to raise money for his own freedom, and went to Paris. Mr. Payne is best remembered for the song "Home, Sweet Home," from his 1823 opera "Clari;" or, "the Maid of Milan." Mr. Payne also tried collaboration with Washington Irving, but none of these were outstanding works of literature. Although Mr. Payne was warmly welcomed upon his return to the United States, his finances didn't improve. Some of Mr. Payne's friends, including Daniel Webster, arranged for Mr. Payne's appointment in 1842 as American consul at Tunis. He remained at this post until 1845 when the administration in Washington changed and was reappointed in 1851. He died there a year later, and his body was taken back to Washington in 1883. Home Sweet Home, the house where Payne spent his childhood, is on The National Register of Historic Places, and it is located at 14 James Lane, East Hampton, New York. It is open at different times, different months. 516-324-0713. Inside is a chest made in 1640 which is documented to be the oldest piece of furniture made in the colonies, also, a large collection of china and other artifacts.
Author's Timeline:
1809 Schenectady County
Mr. Payne attended Union College in Schenectady, New York, around 1809. 
1791 (Unknown) County
John Howard Payne was born in New York City on June 9, 1791. 
1852 (Unknown) County
John Payne died in Tunis, Africa, on April 10, 1852. 
1823 (Unknown) County
Home, Sweet Home
? Suffolk County
Mr. Payne spent his childhood in East Hampton, New York. 
? (Unknown) County
Julia: Or The Wanderer
Comedy in five acts. 

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