Director of Her Majesty's Theatre, Drury Lane, London; born in Canada 1811; died in London March 17, 1875. He was the son of Louis Levy, a Canadian merchant who died in London about 1831. Benjamin was educated at King Edward's School, Birmingham, and early in life assumed the name "Lumley." In 1832 he became a solicitor in London, and from 1837 to 1842 was a parliamentary agent, publishing in 1838 a standard book on "Parliamentary Practise on Passing Private Bills." From 1836 to 1841 he superintended the finances of Her Majesty's Theatre for Laporte, and on Sept. 25, 1841, succeeded him in the management. He transformed the whole system of opera, and employed artists like Grisi, Persiani, Mario, Tamburini, and Lablache in grand opera, and Taglioni, Cerito, and Elssler in the ballets. These latter he made much more elaborate, introducing the famous "pas-de-quatre" in 1845. In 1847, however, as the result of many quarrels with his "stars," a rival opera-house was opened in Covent Garden, and Lumley was saved from ruin only by securing the services of Jenny Lind. On her retirement from the stage in 1849, Lumley's fortunes became embarrassed; and his attempt at controlling the Paris Opera House in 1850-51 led to further pecuniary difficulties. After the burning of Covent Garden Theatre in 1856 Lumley resumed the management of the Drury Lane house; but he failed to make it pay, and finally became reduced to such circumstances that he accepted the results of two benefit performances (1863). He introduced into England over thirty Italian operas, including Donizetti's "La Favorita," Verdi's "Ernani" and "La Traviata," and Auber's "Masaniello."
Lumley wrote two fantastic works of fiction: "Sirenia," 1862; and "Another World," 1873; the latter, describing a utopia in the planet Mars, had some success, and ran through three editions. He published also his "Reminiscences," 1864.
- Times (London), March 19, 1875;
- Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, March 21, 1875;
- Boase, Modern English Biog.;
- Dict. Nat. Biog.