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"The world has literally sung my song until every heart is familiar with its melody, yet I have been a wanderer from my boyhood."

- From the Diary of John Howard Payne

John Howard Payne was born in East Hampton, Long Island, NY on June 9, 1791. He was the son of William Payne, of an old Massachusetts family, and Sarah Isaacs of East Hampton, the sixth son of nine children.

Payne's father was a successful teacher of elocution. He came to East Hampton to teach at Clinton Academy, the third oldest school in New York State. He trained John Howard in diction and delivery and at the age of 14, John Howard worked as a clerk in a counting house where hi edited the weekly journal Thespian Mirror. He entered Union College 1806 and published 25 numbers of periodicals called “The Pastime.”

Payne left college in 1808. The stage held its lure for Payne and he made his debut as an actor on February 24, 1809 at the Park Theatre in New York. Praises of his beauty and genius filled the newspapers and Payne was invited to perform in various roles in Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

In June of 1813, Payne went to England and was the first American actor to invade the British stage. A contemporary noted of Payne’s appearance: "Nature bestowed upon him a countenance of no common order, and though there was a roundness and fairness which but faintly express strong turbulent emotions or display the furious passions, these defects were supplied by an eye which glowed with animation and intelligence. A more extraordinary mixture of softness and intelligence were never associated in a human countenance, and his face was a true index of his heart."

While living in London and…

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Discography Highlights

HOME, SWEET HOME John Howard Payne, Henry Bishop
Public Domain

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