PLAYS

 

The Strange Gentleman is now on-line, the first time one of Dickens’s plays has ever been available on the open Internet. An early work, Dickens probably completed The Strange Gentleman (1836) before he had so much as begun Pickwick Papers. The play was a success, both in London and in New York; but despite this, Dickens disavowed the work only a few years later, and wished it to be forgotten. With all due respect to Dickens’s wishes, we feel the play is well worth preserving, for its merit, and for its historic importance as a piece of apprentice work. The e-text is available on our website.

21 Feb 2003

 

The libretto of The Village Coquettes (1836) is now also available on-line. A light opera or burletta, it originally featured words by Charles Dickens and music by John Pyke Hullah. The project came about through Fanny Dickens, Charles’s older sister, who put the author in contact with her friends and colleagues at the Royal Academy of Music. A historical romance, deliberately written in the style of the light popular plays of time, it was badly reviewed and of limited success. As with Gentleman, Dickens soon renounced the work. The play led to the first communication between Dickens and John Forster, and Forster’s entire review of the burletta is also included. The e-text is available on our website.

26 Feb 2003

 

Is She His Wife? (1837), Dickens’s third play, is now available on-line. Merely a thirty-minute farce, it is brief, hammy, and enjoyable. Dickens’s most risqué work, it features such racy material as extra-marital flirting, flippant jokes about adultery, and even a woman displaying her shapely ankle. The e-text is available on our website.

27 Feb 2003

 

The Lamplighter (1838) is now on-line; it is the fourth and final play which Dickens wrote alone. The comic farce is his topical satire on astrologers and prognosticators, and their reaction to Halley’s Comet (1835). It was written for theatre manager Macready, one of Dickens’s closest friends, but was rejected; an extremely rare event for Dickens. After Dickens’s death the piece was finally published and performed. Excerpts are also included from Macready’s diary, detailing the trial readings and the decision to decline the play. The e-text is available on our website.

02 Mar 2003

 

Mr. Nightingale’s Diary (1851) is now available on-line. A collaboration between Dickens and Punch editor Mark Lemon, the farce was written and performed as a benefit for the Guild of Literature and Art, and the cast was an all-star team of Victorian authors and illustrators. The action takes place a health resort, where the schemes of a conman and quack doctor (Lemon) are exposed by Gabblewig, a quick-change amateur actor who’s a man of a thousand faces (Dickens). Gabblewig, a classic trickster character, changes into a deaf sexton, a feeble invalid, Sam Weller, and, in the play’s highlight, Mrs. Gamp. Don’t miss it. Also included are two articles on the Guild plays, by Household Words subeditor R.H. Horne, detailing staging, costume, props, audience reaction, stage fluffs, cast parties, Dickens’s role as theatre manager, and every aspect of the production. The e-text is available on our website.

08 Mar 2003

 

The Inimitable-Boz mailing list is proud to present a new text by Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens, here made widely available for the first time. The last play Dickens ever worked on was No Thoroughfare: A Drama: In Five Acts (1867), a dramatization of the Christmas Story of the same year. The Christmas Story and the play are always credited to “Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins”; but the drama was, in fact, written almost entirely by Collins, working under Dickens’s long-distance supervision. Dickens developed or supervised the initial plan for the play, and reviewed each act as Collins completed it. For almost a century, a very corrupt version has been the standard edition. The new e-text, rigorously prepared from a rare first edition, is 40% longer, and every line is different and better. More details are given in the play's introduction. For comparison purposes, the old corrupt version has also been posted on-line separately. Publication and performance rights for both versions are in the public domain. 

09 Apr 2003