Samuel Phelps, 1804–78, English actor-manager. After appearing in the provinces for some years he became known in London c.1837 for his portrayals of Shakespearean characters. His contribution to 19th-century theater was in opening (1844) and managing Sadler's Wells, London. There, where melodrama had reigned, he staged Shakespeare's works with imagination and taste; his productions were noted for their scenic beauty. He left Sadler's Wells in 1862 but continued acting.