John Hodgson’s new book on Richard Potter continues to win attention. Recently he spoke about it in Keene to the Historical Society of Cheshire County (April 23) and then in Concord to the New Hampshire Historical Society (May 5). He also discussed Richard Potter’s life with students and staff at Proctor Academy. The book was also reviewed in the Wall Street Journal on April 14.
This month, Hodgson will be speaking again in a nearby town. On Sunday, June 24, 2:00 p.m., he will talk about Richard Potter at the Hopkinton (NH) Historical Society. For this occasion, the Hopkinton Historical Society will be displaying a rare Richard Potter property from its collection, a costume dancing shoe that he wore while performing his “Dissertation on Noses” act. Also on display will be a portrait of Hannah Colby Thompson, who, as the wife of Richard Potter’s longtime assistant Benjamin Thompson, probably accompanied the Potters on their performance tour of the entire United States in 1819-1823.
Two hundred years ago, Richard Potter, a ventriloquist and magician who moved to Andover in 1815, was the most famous entertainer in America. The village of Potter Place in Andover is named for him, and his grave is there close by the Andover Historical Society Museum (the old Potter Place Railway Station).
Hodgson’s book, “Richard Potter: America’s First Black Celebrity,” was published earlier this year. Copies are available for sale online, in bookstores, and at the Andover Historical Society Museum and can be borrowed at both Andover libraries.