Actor/manager, born in Devonport. In his early working life he worked on the York theatre circuit and acted in numerous tragic roles. In 1837 played Shylock at the Haymarket. He then had a short role in the Haymarket and Drury Lane successively. In 1844 he became co-lessee of Sadler's Wells Theatre with Thomas L. Greenwood and Mary Amelia Warner (1804-1854). Greenwood supplied the business capacity, Phelps was the theatrical manager, and Warner the leading lady.
In this position Phelps remained for twenty years, during which time he raised the Sadler's Wells house to an important position. Thirty-four of Shakespeare's plays were presented there under his direction, with great educational effect, both on public and players. In 1861 Greenwood retired from the partnership, and Phelps, unable to cope with the business of management, retired from it the following year. He continued to act but also published and annotated an edition of Shakespeare's works in 2 vols. Buried in Highgate Cemetery.
Credit for this entry to: Beverley Duguid