Play List:

1. The Rath Boys

2. The Witchfinder

3. A Madcap Prince

4. Corinne

5. The Queen of Connaught

6. The Nine Days’ Queen

7. The Mormons

8. The Shadow of the Sword

9. Lucy Brandon

10. Storm-Beaten

11. Lady Clare

[Flowers of the Forest]

12. A Sailor and His Lass

13. Bachelors

14. Constance

15. Lottie

16. Agnes

17. Alone in London

18. Sophia

19. Fascination

20. The Blue Bells of Scotland

21. Partners

22. Joseph’s Sweetheart

23. That Doctor Cupid

24. Angelina!

25. The Old Home

26. A Man’s Shadow

27. Theodora

28. Man and the Woman

29. Clarissa

30. Miss Tomboy

31. The Bride of Love

32. Sweet Nancy

33. The English Rose

34. The Struggle for Life

35. The Sixth Commandment

36. Marmion

37. The Gifted Lady

38. The Trumpet Call

39. Squire Kate

40. The White Rose

41. The Lights of Home

42. The Black Domino

43. The Piper of Hamelin

44. The Charlatan

45. Dick Sheridan

46. A Society Butterfly

47. Lady Gladys

48. The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown

49. The Romance of the Shopwalker

50. The Wanderer from Venus

51. The Mariners of England

52. Two Little Maids from School

53. When Knights Were Bold


Short Plays

Other Plays

Buchanan’s Theatrical Ventures in America

Poetry Readings





The Fleshly School Controversy
Buchanan and the Press
Buchanan and the Law

The Critical Response
Harriett Jay

Site Diary
Site Search



[Advert from The Isle of Man Times (8 June, 1895 - p.1).]


The Isle of Man Times (11 June, 1895 - p.2)

“Alone in London.”

     It may be roughly asserted that melodrama as it used to be understood became the vogue when Dion Boucicault was in his heyday of success, and “After Dark,” his “Emerald Isle” plays, and the “Corsican Brothers” were the talk of the town. But then the other playhouses were producing comedies not entirely unworthy of Sheridan—tragedies which might be ranked with the minor efforts of those who wrote for lucre in the Elizabethan period. To-day, to paraphrase Sir William Vernon Harcourt’s “We are all Socialist now,” all money-making playwrights, those who regard the things which “thieves can break in and steal,” adopt for their theatrical oriflamme the motto “We are all writers of melodrama now.” When Queen Victoria was young, “London Assurance” was produced. The Haymarket was known to the dandies (the forbears of our latter-day “chappies”) as the “Home of Comedy,” and later the Bancrofts, at what was called the “Dust Hole,” in the Tottenham Court Road, allowed audiences to witness the delicate art of Tom Robertson as displayed in “Caste,” and “School,” and “Ours,” and by so doing transmogrified an architectural eyesore into the best paying property in London. This present decade has seen plays labelled “comedies,” “dramas,” “dramatic comedies,” and various other weird titles. In fact the ingenuity of the authors of ’80-’90 seems to have been devoted to titles which advertised, instead of to their character delineation or to the brightening of their dialogue; but whatever cognomen their efforts assumed, they were merely melodrama masquerading. Whether it is “John o’Dreams,” “The Second Mrs Tanqueray,” “The Notorious Mrs Ebbsmith,” or the “Ideal Husband”—in fact, whether the production has been concocted by Jones, by Pinero, by Haddon Chambers, the success has been secured by a clever manipulation of the artifices of the melodramatic writer. “Alone in London,” by Robert Buchanan and Miss Harriet Jay, both well known in “Inky Lane,” disdains adventitious  aid. It is melodrama pure and simple; it has been, and deservedly so, the greatest draw of the big provincial centres, and probably, if reproduced in London, where melodramatic excellence since Harry Pettit’s death has dwindled to the vanishing point, would command attention. The success of “Alone in London” has been due to multitudinous causes. In the first place, and more particularly in its present staging at the Grand, the scenery in mise-en-scene and ensemble has been most accurately and artistically rendered. The great British public love “mechanical changes,” and they desire an alteration of venue. In “Alone in London” their appetites are fed in both directions. Scribe, the great French author, was wont to say that the financially successful play was one that was not too old and not too new. “Alone in London” is neither the one nor the other. It tells a simple, direct story with most admirable adroitness, full of human nature, replete with strong situations, and crowned with stirring curtains. Moreover, it was enacted in the proper spirit. A caste containing over twenty characters is difficult to deal with in a short notice. But Mr Lonnen Meadows’ impersonation of “Charlie Johnson” was one of the most artistic characterizations that it is possible to conceive. Mr Percy Bell, Mr Harry Percival, Miss Madge Douglas, Miss Geraldine, and the entire company deserve the highest praise. “Alone in London” should draw good houses to the Grand during the week, because it is scenically splendidly put on, well acted, and tells a story with power and pathos, and a story which is so human that it should possess a charm for all and sundry.
     A dramatic correspondent writes:—A crowded and delighted audience packed the spacious Grand Opera House, on Monday evening, to witness the welcome return visit of Messrs Miller & Elliston’s well-known London Company in Robert Buchanan’s dramatic masterpiece, “Alone in London.” The piece is announced as a “golden triumph,” and as the cute J. S. Elliston wittingly calls it, “the dramatic goose with the golden eggs.” If the piece is greeted with the same business everywhere the Company visits as they are now doing, it is verily a financial golden triumph, and there is every possibility of the “dramatic goose” laying “golden eggs,” in the shape of good substantial English sovereigns for some years to come. This really wonderful dramatic success has been on tour for over ten years and played upwards of 5,000 nights, and Mr. Elliston maintains that “Alone in London” (with the exception of one play) has received the largest patronage ever accorded to a domestic drama. As a dramatic literary work, it undoubtedly ranks high above the ordinary drama, and its prolonged popular success, amongst every class of playgoer, proves it. There is no doubt “Alone in London,” which is a pure dramatic idyll of London life, with all its natural intensity, is what the modern playgoer wants, and it is to the popular audience that managers have to cater for. “Alone in London” is a play everyone young and old can witness, containing a strong sensation story, interspersed with a healthy moral vein full of touching interest, so dear to a popular audience. There is no doubt that good old “Alone in London” would give many of the modern “Woman, with a past” type of drama a very back seat. Mr. Elliston has secured an exceptionally strong cast for his representation. “Nan” is capitally played by Miss Madge Douglas; while the honest true-hearted “slow and sure” “John Biddlecombe” has an excellent exponent in Mr Harry Percival, who has recently left Mr Irving’s Company. “Richard Redcliffe,” the brutal adventurer, as played by Mr George Young, deserves high mention. The comedy parts of the piece are well sustained by Miss Beatrice Goodchild, as “Liz Jenkinson,” and Mr Lonnen Meadows, the well-known burlesque actor, as “Charlie Johnson,” who fairly brings down the house with a burlesque ballad. Mr Percy Bell gives a remarkably clever character sketch of the sneaking old villain “Jenkinson.” “Tom Chickweed,” in the hands of Miss Grace Geraldine, is an ideal piece of clever acting. The smaller parts are well played, and the scenic “revolves” and “quick changes” are a well conceived masterpiece of stage management of Mr Edwin Leslie. Crowded houses should greet this clever Company during the rest of the week.



The Guardian (11 July, 1895 - p.9)



     It may be a little galling to Mr. Robert Buchanan to know that while a rough and ready melodrama of this kind can obtain a record of 5,000 performances, most of his comedies and adaptations have practically passed into the limbo of forgetfulness. But, after all, “Alone in London” is good in its way. It is interesting, and has the saving grace that it is not diffuse at any point. The customary prolixity of melodramatic dialogue is absent. Certain heroic flights are indulged in, of course, but it may be said generally that there is no unnecessary “piling on” of the agony. It is a sordid story in the main, but we get a breath of fresh air at times. It is not entirely of the slums, although the greater portion of the incidents take place in or about London. The interest centres in the plotting of Richard Redcliffe and his thieving associates, the woes of Annie Meadows, and the chivalrous devotion of John Biddlecombe. The very violence of the light and shade enhances the effectiveness of the various situations, and many were the sympathetic exclamations and the unrepressed objurgations which came from an excited audience when an additional twist was given to the rack or a more than usually ingenious bit of villany was proposed. Messrs. Miller and Elliston’s company, which has for some considerable time past been charged with the representation of the play, is fully equal to all demands. Miss Madge Douglas-Barron is a sympathetic heroine. Messrs. George Young and Percy Bell as the villain in chief and his humorous confederate realise exactly what is expected of them, and Mr. H. Percival is duly vigorous and emphatic as the honest countryman. The low-life humours of Mr. Lonnen Meadows and Miss Grace Geraldine as a “humble professional” and a street hawker were hugely relished.


[Advert from The Era (24 October, 1886).]


The Liverpool Courier (12 January, 1897)


     The celebrated melodrama, entitled  Alone in London the outcome of the literary collaboration of Mr Robert Buchanan and Miss Harriet Jay was submitted to the judgment of a capital audience at the Grand Theatre last evening. Although the piece cannot claim the attractiveness of novelty having been one of the most frequently produced dramas of recent years, it has evidently lost little of its great popularity of former days judging from the keen interest with which the story was followed from start to finish last evening. The serious interest of the piece is relieved by the introduction of many genuinely humorous episodes, and the whole play betrays dramatic workmanship of a high order. It is splendidly staged at the Grand Theatre, and is played by a company which does full justice to the most exacting scenes. Miss Dorothy Percy graceful and handsome as the heiress, Ruth Clifton, adds high histrionic ability to her other attractions, and Mr Ashton Ashbee exhibits undeniable ability in his impersonation of the villain. A pair of itinerant mountebanks are cleverly portrayed by Miss Laura Leycester and Mr C. A. Russell and other notable roles are entrusted to the competent hands of Mr Charles Grayson, Mr Fredk. Wright, sen. and Mr Fred Wilberforce.



The Scotsman (20 April, 1897 - p.6)

     “Alone in London,” the drama by Mr Robert Buchanan and Miss Harriet Jay, was the holiday attraction at the Grand Theatre last evening. The play has been touring for eleven years, and still holds the play-going public. Miss Edith Blanche took the part of Nan the Flower Girl. There was a large audience.



The Guardian (10 August, 1897 - p.5)



     The vitality of some of the old melodramas is remarkable. Some there are of which the public seem never to tire. It is so with the “Lights o’ London,” which occupied this theatre last week, and we have another example of long life in the play “Alone in London,” which was given to the world a good many years ago by Mr. Robert Buchanan and another. “Alone in London” has been played again and again in Manchester, yet some playgoers are not tired of it, as the reception accorded to it last night plainly showed. Miss Edith Blanche, as Nan, the flower girl, easily won and secured the sympathies of the audience; and the part of her “disreputable husband” was effectively sustained by Mr. Magill Martyn. Indeed, the characters generally—and there are a great many—were in capable hands. In the comic passages of the piece Mr. Lonnen Meadows, “a humble professional,” was highly amusing.



The Stage (16 June, 1898 - p.10)

     Alone in London, Robert Buchanan and Harriett Jay’s drama, will begin its twelfth year of tour next Monday, at the Royal, Hanley, with Mr. Elliston’s No. 1 Co., under the direction of Mr. Warwick Major. This year the piece comes to nearly all the suburban theatres, the London rights of the play having recently been purchased by Mr. Elliston.


[Advert for J. F. Elliston’s touring production of Alone in London from The Stage (30 June, 1898-p.18).]


The Era (9 July, 1898)

On Monday, July 4th,
Robert Buchanan and Harriet Jay’s Domestic Drama,
in a Prologue and Four Acts, entitled

     This powerful attraction is in its twelfth year of tour and still pleases the frequenters of the popular parts of the house. Mr J. F. Elliston’s No. 1 company has been well chosen. The story of poor Annie Meadows’s sufferings in London arouses keen sympathy in the hearts of the patrons of this theatre. In the rôle of Annie Meadows Miss Lily C. Bandmann has a great deal to do. This clever young lady displays distinct ability, and is fully equal to the demands of the character, proving herself an emotional leading actress of more than ordinary capacity. Mr William Maclaren endows John Biddlecomb with individuality, supplying a very creditable performance. Richard Redcliffe is cleverly portrayed by Mr William Clayton. Miss Ethel M. Ward merits unstinted praise for her representation of Tom Chickweed, and is vociferously applauded. Mr Percy Bell, the original Jenkinson, acquits himself most satisfactorily. Mr Melville Bickford does well in his interpretation of Spriggins. The Radcliffes; little son Paul is intelligently impersonated by little Phyllis Graham. A particularly excellent impersonation of Mr Burnaby is given by Mr Henry Crocker, who is also to be complimented upon his capital make-up. Mr George Phythian doubles the parts of the Under-keeper and David, a potboy. Mr W. Burrows Nugent as Walter Burnaby and Miss Marie Robson as Ruth Clifton play well. The comedy element is well sustained by Mr Edward Marris and Miss Beatrice Goodchild as Charlie Johnson and Liz Jenkinson. A capable exponent of Mrs Maloney is Miss Maggie Cardiff. A noteworthy feature of this production is the new scenery, specially painted by that talented artist Mr W. Tritschler. Play and players have been given hearty receptions.



Aberdeen Weekly Journal (23 August, 1898)



     Whether or not it be that in the portrayal of slum life Mr Robert Buchanan, aided by Miss Harriet Jay, reveals those touches that make the whole world kin, one thing is certain—the drama that these famous collaborators produced twelve years ago under the title of “Alone in London” is more popular by far to-day than when first produced. Criticism of its merits need go no further. The piece is one of the finest of its kind, and we have never yet seen it played to thin or unappreciative houses. Last night, when it was put on the local boards by Mr J. F. Elliston’s No. 1 Company, the theatre was crowded from pit to gallery, and in the more stirring scenes the large audience was moved to extraordinary and unwonted enthusiasm. On the whole, the acting was capable and intelligent. Mr W. Maclaren had, in John Biddlecomb, a most sympathetic part, and his acting was robust and careful, his elocution faultless, and his stage presence of the best; while as the heroine, Annie Meadows, Miss Lily C. Bandmann won golden opinions. Mr W. Clayton was the “villain,” Richard Redcliffe, every inch—and more; the impersonation would not suffer by being somewhat toned down. Miss Ethel M. Ward did some good work as Gipsy Tom; and the comic element was in the capable hands of Mr E. Marris, as Charlie Johnston. Mr Percy Bell, as Jenkinson, and Miss Millie Steele, as Liz Jenkinson, were all that could be wished. The piece is most elaborately staged, and the production is on the finest scale. The music played between the acts is particularly enjoyable.



The Era (3 June, 1899)

On Monday, May 29th, the Drama,
by Robert Buchanan and Harriet Jay, entitled

     The hearts of many lovers of melodrama in the neighbourhood of Fulham have been gladdened this week by a dose of strong undiluted sensationalism served up by Mr J. F. Elliston’s No. 1 company from the prescription of doctors R. Buchanan and Harriet Jay, and labelled Alone in London. If we wished to be hypercritical we might wonder when Annie Meadows is really alone in London, as she seems to be always surrounded either by good friends or villainous associates, but such fare as this must be taken as we find it. The best proof of popularity is in its endurance, and as Alone in London has toured the provinces for twelve years (vide programme), no better proof of its popularity “on the road” need be adduced. Mr Wm. Maclaren is a fine manly exponent of the devoted countryman John Biddlecomb, a Suffolk miller, whose love for the girl of his heart never falters, despite her rejection of his suit in favour of a scoundrel, and who turns up in time to rescue her from an awful death in the old sluice house, Rotherhithe. Miss Lily C. Bandmann acts with power and pathos as the ill-fated and all too-trusting and foolish heroine, who in this case is actually married to her destroyer. Mr William Clayton is a fine, athletic, well-spoken (in his softer moments) villain, and acts with all the necessary unscrupulous brutality and uncompromising assumption of villainy. Mr W. Burrowes Nugent makes a droll figure of the masherish swindler, Spriggs; Mr T. H. Solly enacts the part of the thievish philosopher, Jenkins, with great ability; and other character studies are supplied by Miss Beatrice Goodchild as Liz Jenkinson, the rough diamond of the “doss house:” Mr Lonnen Meadows as Charley Johnson, the honest and humble professional; and Miss Maggie Cardiff as the garrulous and good-hearted Irishwoman and orange-seller. Miss Lilyan Lait looks pretty in the small part of Ruth Clifton; Miss Ethel M. Ward is excellent as the wait, Tom Chickweed, whose devotion to Annie Meadows practically saves her life at the risk of his own; Mr T. Renaud as Mr Burnaby, the rich banker and apparently irresponsible philanthropist; Mr A. Willerby as his son, Walter; and others do good service. The scenery is tasteful and appropriate, and the piece evokes hearty plaudits from the admirers of this class of work.



The Era (23 September, 1899 - p.12)

     IN the cast of Alone in London, to be revived at the Princess’s on Saturday next, Messrs Frank Cooper and Fred Emney will appear, and also Misses Kate Rorke and Marie Linden. Alone in London was first produced at the Olympic Theatre, Nov. 2d, 1885, when Miss Harriett Jay, one of the authors, played Tom Chickweed. This was before Miss Jay called herself Charles Marlowe, for the play was billed as by Robert Buchanan and Harriett Jay. The play was revived eight years ago at the Princess’s—that is, on Dec. 21st, 1891—when Mr Henry Neville played the hero, originally created by Mr Leonard Boyne, Miss Ellaline Terriss was the Tom Chickweed, and Mr W. L. Abingdon the villain, Redcliffe. In addition to those named above, in the present revival will also appear Messrs Lawrence D’Orsay, J. B. Gordon, and William Clayton, Miss Minnie Sadler, and Miss Ethel M. Ward as Tom Chickweed.



The Penny Illustrated Paper (30 September, 1899)

The Princess’s Theatre

reopens on Saturday night with the stirring drama “Alone in London,” by Miss Harriet Jay and Mr. Robert Buchanan, which was originally produced at the Olympic Theatre fourteen years ago, and was revived at the Princess’s eight years ago. It is an excellent drama of its kind, and can hardly fail to prove attractive. It was heartily appreciated when first produced, and I learn that the scenery and cast will be worthy the reputation the Princess’s management has won.



Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper (1 October, 1899 - p.13)



     The possibilities of Alone in London, a drama by Mr. Robert Buchanan and Miss Harriet Jay, do not seem to be exhausted, for Mr. Robert Arthur revived it last night at the Princess’s, where, by the way, it was played eight years ago, with Mr. Henry Neville as the bluff and honest John Biddlecomb, most injured and forgiving of men, and Miss Elmore as the flower girl Nan. Miss Ella—now Ellaline—Terriss was also in that revival as the boy Chickweed. The drama was originally produced at the Olympic in 1885, when such success as it obtained was done to its elaborate scenic effects—particularly to a telescopic arrangement by which the villain appears to open a Thames sluice gate to drown his wife, who is lying helpless in a cellar. Mr. Leonard Boyne was the original Biddlecomb, and poor Amy Roselle was the girl Nan. The drama smacks of the days when the real cab and the realistic lamp post was popular. We want something more nowadays than scenic realism—we look for a good story, and here the revival is disappointing, for the object of the authors in those days was served when they had provided a few familiar street scenes such as we here have in a fine view of Westminster-bridge lighted by real lamps, a fine effect by Mr. W. T. Hemsley, and Trafalgar-square. The story, it will be remembered, concerns a ruffianly thief who marries a simple country girl, and drags her down to the dregs of London life. It is told in a spasmodic way, but it tells with a popular audience, who liberally hissed and applauded the evil and virtuous sentiments. An excellent cast has been secured. Mr. Frank Cooper is the breezy John Biddlecomb, and a good one; while no more sympathetic exponent of the sorrows of poor Nan could be desired than Miss Lillah McCarthy. The boy Chickweed is the conventional waif in the hands of Miss Ethel M. Ward, and Mr. Fred Emney gives unction to the rascality of Jenkinson. Mr. Lawrence D'Orsay as the swell mobsman Spriggins, Mr. Sidney Howard as the negro minstrel of the gutter, and Miss Laura Linden, as his partner Liz Jenkinson, contributed largely to the comic relief. The good-hearted Irish basket woman, Mrs. Maloney, finds a genial representative in Miss Kathleen O’Connor. A miscellaneous crowd of nondescripts are well represented. The reception of the drama was so favourable as to suggest that there may be a revival of interest in this class of piece.



Daily News (2 October, 1899)



     “Alone in London,” by Mr. Robert Buchanan and Miss Harriet Jay, is a melodrama of a decidedly sensational character; but this is a class of pieces for which there is always a brisk, though no doubt a limited demand, and it seems more than probable that its revival on Saturday evening at the Princess’s Theatre—a house which under its present management has gained a renown for plays in this category—will be attended with success. It is now hard upon fourteen years since sympathetic playgoers were at once harrowed and delighted at the Olympic Theatre with the spectacle of Miss Amy Roselle, as the heroine, bound to a post in the old Sluice House at Rotherhithe by her villanous husband Richard Redcliffe, and there left to be drowned by the rising tide. The piece was revived at the Princess’s in December, 1891, with almost an entirely different cast. It is now played by a company which, if we mistake not, includes no single member of either of the two former casts; but which is certainly not an inefficient one. The story is mostly concerned with the persecutions of the unhappy lady already referred to at the hands of the scoundrel whom, in an evil hour, she has preferred to an honest admirer in the person of John Biddlecombe, a worthy Suffolk miller. As we have said on a former occasion, it would be long to tell of the trials and sorrows of this unfortunate lady and her little child, to enumerate the scenes of life, both high and low—but chiefly low—with which her vicissitudes of fortune associate her; or to convey a notion of the number of times she is befriended and aided by the poor ragged lad, Gipsy Tom, until the latter stabs to the heart the execrable scoundrel Redcliffe, while he is in the act of committing a burglary, and thus wipes off an old personal score, saves an innocent wife and child, and frees the persecuted heroine, just in time to consign her to the faithful arms of her old admirer. The authors, whose play first saw the light of day in the United States, have missed no opportunity of accumulating exciting incident upon exciting incident, and altogether the piece is a very effective one of its kind. Miss Lilian McCarthy won on Saturday evening abundant sympathy for the unfortunate heroine; Mr Frank Cooper’s Biddlecombe was none the worse for being a trifle less blunt in tone and manner than previous representatives of that worthy person; and Mr. William Clayton endowed the scoundrel Redcliffe with a certain measure of plausibility. The part of the street boy Chickweed, originally played with much force and truth by Miss Jay, is now cleverly sustained by Miss Ethel M. Ward, and other parts of more or less prominence fall to Mr. Leonard D’Orsay, Mr. Frank Emney, Mr. Sydney Howard, and Miss Laura Linden. The various scenes and episodes of London life are set forth with the old elaborateness of detail, and the revival is provided with picturesque scenery.



The Daily Telegraph (2 October, 1899 - p.5)


     There is no need to tell at length the tale of honest melodramatic woe which was unfolded on Saturday evening at the Princess’s Theatre. “Alone in London” is no novelty, for did not Mr. Robert Buchanan and Miss Harriet Jay concoct the drama for the Olympic some fourteen years back? And was it not revived on these very boards in Oxford-street early in the nineties? However, it would seem that Mr. Robert Arthur has made no mistake in mounting the play anew; for a full house on Saturday accorded it a welcome nothing short of uproarious. They shed sympathetic tears over the undeserved sufferings of the heroine, Nan; they cheered the chivalrous doings of worthy John Biddlecomb to the echo; and they hissed the villainous Richard Redcliffe like a flock of angry geese on a windy common. With such facts as there in evidence, little would be gained by any attempt to turn the critical “bull’s eye” upon the drama’s frank improbabilities. And, after all, the authors of “Alone in London” have leaned no more heavily upon coincidence’s long arm than do many others of their tribe to this very day. In any case, one may hasten to give Mr. Robert Arthur credit for the adequate manner in which the play has been cast and staged. Mr. Frank Cooper, it need scarcely be said, brings his ample experience to bear upon the part of John Biddlecomb with complete success. As the sorely injured heroine, Miss Lillah McCarthy touches a series of strong and pathetic notes, and the drama gains not a little by her presence. The villainy of Mr. William Clayton is very downright indeed, and what more can a Princess’s audience desire? As for the comedians of the cast, one and all quickly ingratiated themselves with their “kind friends in front.” Miss Laura Linden and Mr. Sidney Howard combined unimpeachable virtue with the humours of a pair of strolling “artistes”; while Mr. Fred Emney—a really droll actor—and Mr. Lawrence D’Orsay raised constant laughter as the unspeakable Redcliffe’s comic satellites. Miss Ethel M. Ward, if she made a somewhat too girlish Tom Chickweed, clearly pleased her audience; and the play was assisted, too, by Mr. J. B. Gordon, Mr. J. Brabourne, and Miss Minnie Sadler. “Alone in London” should certainly serve Mr. Arthur’s purpose for some little time to come.



Daily Mail (3 October, 1899 - p.6)


     It is too late in the day to attempt detailed criticism of “Alone in London,” written by Mr. Robert Buchanan and Miss Harriet Jay.
     It has stood the test of fourteen years. It has been revived from time to time with notable players in the principal parts. And to-day, after a course of drawing-room melodrama with more sophisticated people, and spectacular melodrama saying the last word of costly realism, the simple, artless, improbable tale still holds an audience—as it held the Princess’s audience on Saturday night—sympathetic to its issues from the rise to the fall of the curtain.
     Mr. Frank Cooper played splendidly as John Biddlecomb. Miss Lillah McCarthy was wholly delightful as the heroine.



The Morning Post (3 October, 1899 - p.2)



     “Alone in London,” a drama written by Mr. Robert Buchanan and Miss Harriet Jay, and originally produced at the Olympic Theatre some fourteen years ago, was revived at the Princess’s Theatre on Saturday night with the following cast:

Characters in the Prologue.

John Biddlecomb (A Wealthy
     Miller, slow and sure) . . . . . . . . . . . .  Mr. FRANK COOPER.
Annie Meadows (The Keeper’s
     Daughter) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   Miss LILLAH McCARTHY.
Jack Woods (Under Keeper) . . . . . . . . .  Mr. J. BRABOURNE.
Richard Redcliffe (An Adventurer) . . . . .  Mr. WILLIAM CLAYTON.
Spriggins (His Friend, a Swell) . . . . . . . .  Mr. LAWRANCE D’ORSAY.
Gipsy Tom (A Waif and Stray) . . . . . . . .   Miss ETHEL M. WARD.
Jenkinson (An Innkeeper) . . . . . . . . . . . .   Mr. FRED EMNEY.

Characters in the Drama.

Mr. Burnaby (A Rich Banker) . . . . . . . . .  Mr. J. B. GORDON.
Walter Burnaby (His Son) . . . . . . . . . . . .   Mr. FRANK LACY.
Ruth Clifton (His Cousin, an Heiress) . . . .  Miss MINNIE SADLER.
Richard Redcliffe (A Swell Mobsman) . . .  Mr. WILLIAM CLAYTON.
Spriggins (His Friend, a Swell) . . . . . . . . .  Mr. LAWRANCE D’ORSAY.
Jenkinson (Thief and Philosopher, better
     known as “Benevolent Jenkins”) . . . . .  Mr. FRED EMNEY.
Liz Jenkinson (His Daughter) . . . . . . . . . .   Miss LAURA LINDEN.
Little Paul . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Miss PHYLLIS GRAHAM.
Charley Johnson (A Humble Professional)  Mr. SIDNEY HOWARD.
Tom Chickweed (Seller of Chickweed
     and Groundsel) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    Miss ETHEL M. WARD.
Nan (A Flower Girl) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Miss LILLAH McCARTHY.
Mrs. Maloney (From County Cork)  . . . .   Miss KATHLEEN O’CONNOR.
John Biddlecomb (Up from the Country)    Mr. FRANK COOPER.
Blind Billy. . . . . . . .   (Outcasts                 Mr. G. YARMOUTH.
The Lame Duck . . .}     and              {    Mr. F. H. WAYNE.
Jim, the Larker . . . .  Mendicants)            Mr. J. FOSTER.
Ballad Singer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Mr. HENRY SIBALD.
Isaacs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   Mr. ALFRED MOSS.
Roberts (A Policeman) . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Mr. J. BRABOURNE.
Inspector of Police . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    Mr. ARCHER.
David (a Pot-boy) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Mr. WILLIAM BOYNE.
Susan (a Servant) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    Miss RITA FAWCETT.

     This is not the first time that “Alone in London” has been revived, and the success of its run in 1891, at the Princess’s, has no doubt induced the management of that theatre to place once more on the boards a play that, judged as a work of dramatic art or literature, might well have been left to oblivion. It is sensational melodrama of purely conventional type. Improbabilities and coincidences bristle, and even the most casual observer can find in it no true picture of contemporary life. But the humours and, above all, the miseries of low society are dwelt on and graphically portrayed by authors well acquainted with the taste of pit and gallery, that tolerates and even gloats over horrors and anguish as long as in the end hero and heroine are made happy. In the prologue the heroine is wooed by two men; she chooses the wrong one, and the remaining four Acts catalogue her sufferings at the hands of an unmitigated scoundrel, who ends by tying her to a post inside an old sluice-house by the riverside at Rotherhithe and opening the floodgates, so that, like the toiler of the sea, she may be drowned by the rising waters. The wretched woman is, however, by no means “alone” in London, as the title of the play implies; she has good friends in a rich banker and his daughter, who give her a temporary home, and in a kind- hearted tramp and his still more kind-hearted wife, in a delightful Irishwoman from County Cork, and in Gipsy Tom, a waif and stray, who stabs the inhuman husband, and, when the crisis is reached, fetches the rescuer, and finally in the rescuer himself, who is no other than the right man rejected in the Prologue, and who arrives in London from the Antipodes in time to swim through the seething waves and liberate his Andromeda. To these dramatis personæ, which remind one of George Cruikshank’s twopenny coloured Character Heads, must be added that of the innkeeper in the prologue, afterwards “Thief and Philosopher, better known as Benevolent Jenkins,” the begging-letter parson—a part, or rather parts, rendered with exceeding humour and so much ability by Mr. Fred Emney that the actor’s art, singularly enough, went far to defeat the author’s aim, for so adroitly, so Hyde and Jekyl-ly are the two Jenkinsons differentiated that no one would believe the imposition possible except at the hands of a professional play actor. But this is not the only character effectively rendered at the Princess’s Theatre. Mr. Frank Cooper showed that restraint and natural unexaggerated fidelity to living models can produce the most telling effect even in a melodramatic hero, and one could not help thinking, as one listened to his well-assumed dialect, how admirably he would personate the unsophisticated hero of “Lorna Doone” if ever that charming story reappears in dramatic form. Mr. William Clayton was forcible and not over- coloured as the villain, and earned the approving hisses of the gallery. Miss Laura Linden made a great hit as Liz, the daughter of the innkeeper and wife of the tramp. Miss Ethel M. Ward was pathetic though a trifle monotonous as the waif and stray, and Miss Lillah McCarthy was graceful and refined, but at times rather stagy, as the heroine. The scenery was excellent and the changes in view of the audience startling by reason of their rapidity and mechanical precision. The approbation of the spectators was unbounded.



The Sketch (4 October, 1899 - p.39)


On Saturday evening last, at the Princess’s Theatre, in Oxford Street, took place the revival of Mr. Robert Buchanan and Miss Harriet Jay’s melodrama, “Alone in London,” which has been touring in all sorts and sizes of provincial towns ever since it was first produced at the Olympic some fifteen years ago. The cast at the princess’s is perhaps the strongest yet seen in this apparently perennial play, and includes Mr. Frank Cooper (so long a Lyceum favourite), Mr. Fred Emney (who shows so much of the humour of his droll relative, Mr. Arthur Williams), Miss Laura Linden (an always welcome comédienne), and Miss Lillah McCarthy, a recruit of Mr. Wilson Barrett’s who had to take up the character of the heroine at rather short notice in consequence of the sudden illness of that popular actress, Miss Kate Rorke, who was originally cast for it.



The Graphic (7 October, 1899)

The Theatres



     THE development of the public appetite for melodrama is a fact in the dramatic phenomena of these times which causes, I am aware, many worthy persons and well-wishers to the stage some uneasiness; and if it were accompanied by a corresponding decline in the demand for plays of a higher class I confess that there would be some ground for this feeling. But the truth is that, although we have three London theatres of the highest rank, including the historical DRURY LANE, which devote themselves to melodramas, there never was a period when a really brilliant comedy, or even a really brilliant poetical play, would have been so certain to bring its author substantial rewards. As to DRURY LANE, it has forsaken the higher drama for the obvious reason that the vast size of its stage, as Hazlitt complained, is unsuited to the exhibition of the finer qualities of acting, and, indeed, fit for nothing but broad effects and spectacular displays. And why not? it may be asked. There is evidently a large section of the public who enjoy plays of this harmless, if not very intellectual, kind, and there is no reason to suppose that the interests of the higher drama would be served by denying them a lawful pleasure. From this point of view there seems no reason to despair of the Drama because the management of the PRINCESS’S Theatre have chosen to revive Alone in London, by Mr. Robert Buchanan and Miss Harriett Jay, which was brought out at the OLYMPIC Theatre fourteen years ago, and has since been revived in London and played in the country far and wide. It is, it is true, a melodrama of a rather pronounced type. Columns would hardly suffice to tell of all the reasons that the unhappy heroine, Mrs. Redcliffe, has to repent the hour when she rejected the suit of honest John Biddlecombe, the Suffolk miller, and linked her destinies with those of the diabolical Richard Redcliffe, whose villainies reach their climax in the great scene of terror and suspense in which he is seen to tie his wife to the post by the sluice gates at Rotherhithe and leave her there to be drowned by the rising tide. But all these attractions might fail but for the plentiful supply of those scenes and incidents of humble life in London which is here provided. The revival undoubtedly gave pleasure to the PRINCESS’S audience on Saturday evening. It is, on the whole, well acted. Miss Lilah McCarthy, in the place of Miss Kate Rorke, who had to relinquish the part through illness, won much sympathy as the heroine. Mr. Frank Cooper played Biddlecombe with fine manly directness, and Mr. William Clayton, as the villainous Redcliffe, was careful to avoid the temptations of the part to exaggeration. When it is added that Miss Harriett Jay has a clever successor in Miss Ethel Ward as the good-hearted street urchin, Chickweed, and that Mr. Emney, Mr. Sydney Howard, and Miss Laura Louden made the most of that important ingredient, the “comic relief,” enough has been said to justify the prediction that the revival of Alone in London will enjoy a fair measure of success.



The Illustrated London News (7 October, 1899 - p.19)

     The Princess’s management on Saturday last revived Mr. Robert Buchanan and Miss Harriett Jay’s wildly incredible but plangently pathetic melodrama, “Alone in London.” Fourteen years ago, at the Olympic, its realistic stage pictures of Westminster Bridge and the Rotherhithe sluice-gates, and its capital interpretation at the hands of such sterling performers as Leonard Boyne, Herbert Standing, and poor Amy Roselle, won this piece an exceptional popularity. But both the scenic effects and the acting supplied now at the Princess’s will bear comparison with those of the original production. Miss Lillah McCarthy is now the flower-girl heroine so outraged in her feelings both as wife and mother; Mr. William Clayton plays Nan’s flashy and criminal husband; and Mr. Frank Cooper is cast for the rôle of the bashful but athletic hero. All three show spirit and intensity; while certain memorable comic characters find admirable representatives in Mr. Fred Emney, Mr. Sidney Howard, Mr. Lawrence D’Orsay, and above all, in clever Miss Laura Linden.



The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (7 October, 1899 - p.15)

     The Princess’s Theatre, on Saturday evening last, for the second time presented a revival of Alone in London, the melodrama in a prologue and four acts which originally saw the light at the Olympic Theatre in November 1885, when that establishment was under the direction of Mrs. Annie Conover. In the first production there were engaged, with others, Mr. Leonard Boyne as the hero, John Biddlecomb, Mr. Herbert Standing as Richard Redcliffe, the principal villain, Mr. Percy Bell as Jenkinson, and Mr. Dalton Somers as Spriggins, his accomplices in crime, the lamented Amy Roselle as the greatly persecuted heroine, and Miss Harriet Jay, who with Mr. Robert Buchanan, was responsible for the authorship, as Tom Chickweed the gutter-merchant, who is known as Gipsy Tom. When eight years ago the piece was put on at the house in Oxford-street, Mr. Henry Neville played John Biddlecomb, Miss Maud Elmore was the heroine, and Miss Ellaline Terriss, then called Ella, in the part of Tom Chickweed, gave promise of the artistic talent that has since been developed. Annie Meadows, the heroine, it may be remembered, rejects honest John Biddlecomb in favour of the more showy, but altogether unprincipled Richard Redcliffe who marries her, takes her from her simple country home to London, and there drags her down to such a condition of poverty that she is compelled to sell flowers in the street in order that she may buy bread for herself and child. She becomes Nan the flower girl. She unexpectedly finds a friend in the benevolent banker, Mr. Burnaby, who gives her a position in his house at Thames Ditton, and sends her little boy to school. The long arm of coincidence brings Richard Redcliffe and his companion Spriggins, after they have left prison, into the company of Burnaby’s son. They are playing the “swell” game, and are invited to the banker’s house, where, with the assistance of the rascal Jenkinson, who is posing as a clergyman, they invent a plausible story which leads up to the dismissal of poor Nan from her comfortable situation. Later there is an attempt to murder her by tying her to some timbers by the Sluice House at Rotherhithe, opening the flood gates and leaving her to drown. Those who are experienced in the methods of melodrama will not be surprised to hear that she is rescued from her perilous position by John Biddlecomb, and that she lives to assist in the defeat of Richard Redcliffe’s attempt to rob the house of her benefactor, and to see due punishment dealt out to her brutal lord and master. Alone in London may be described as a patchwork piece. Sensationalism abounds, and the realistic is much relied on. There is a scene representing the foot of Westminster bridge, with a motley crowd that supplies a good deal of amusement, although indulging in many stale devices. The big sensation is found, of course, in the scene of the Sluice House, which must be accepted without any questionings concerning the facilities given to such a villain as Richard Redcliffe to take liberties with the flood gates. Mr. W. Clayton gave a graphic portraiture of Redcliffe, and was frequently howled at by a virtuous gallery that had abundant applause for the John Biddlecomb of Mr. Frank Cooper, the Annie Meadows of Miss Lillah McCarthy, and the Gipsy Tom of Miss Ethel M. Ward. The actresses named delighted all present, and displayed ability that should give them a speedy advance in public favour. Mr. Sydney Howard, as a strolling mummer, Mr. Fred Emney as Jenkinson, Mr. Lawrence D’Orsay as Spriggins, Mr. J. B. Gordon as the benevolent Burnaby, and Miss Laura Linden as Lucy Jenkinson, all came into prominence, and helped to secure for the revival a cordially favourable reception.



The Sketch (18 October, 1899 - p.11)

     The revival of “Alone in London” may be regarded as a fit occasion to recall a few biographical facts concerning its distinguished, albeit somewhat erratic, author. It is fifty-eight years since Robert Buchanan was born in a Staffordshire village, so that the virile penman—poet, playwright, and romancist—so freely credited as a Scotchman, is actually an Englishman by birth. Before everything, Buchanan is a Londoner, and the charms—the siren fascinations, the tragedies and comedies—of the great city have had no finer poetic interpreter. For over forty years Robert Buchanan has been one of its denizens, and not infrequently his memory reverts to the far-away days when he and his friend, David Gray the poet, shared a garret in Stamford Street. In 1860, Robert Buchanan published his first volume of poems, with the title “Undertones”; some years later, he contributed a finely sympathetic appreciation of his dead friend, David Gray. His play, “A Madcap Prince,” written when a youth, was produced at the Haymarket Theatre exactly a quarter of a century since. The late R. H. Hutton, the eminent editor of the Spectator, declared of Buchanan’s poetic achievement that “the voice of dumb, wistful yearning in Man towards something higher had not found as yet any interpreter equal to Buchanan.” As a poet, however, he has not yet received his due recognition.


[Advert from The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser (25 May, 1900 - p.1).]


The Guardian (29 May, 1900 - p.8)



     Mr. Robert Buchanan had already made his mark not only in dramatic but in other fields of literary effort, so that his personal and immediate share in the authorship of this play must originally have come as a surprise to everybody. And yet the piece is not only good of its kind, but it has now for fourteen years been accounted almost a classic in this curious domain of melodrama. That it should have achieved this distinction is at once praise and dispraise. In order to have done so, it cannot have departed far from the beaten track; to have thus followed the lead of smaller men—mere mechanics, nailers-up of situations and sensations—is not a matter on which the author can plume himself. As melodramas go, “Alone in London” is effective enough. It is just about as true to life as the turbulent canvas billows which illustrate the sluice gates in the fourth act are to nature. But its main success lies not only in the directness of its purely melodramatic effects—the betrayed village maiden, her love for her child, her dog-like devotion to her villainous husband, his brutality and final attempt to murder her,—but in some interesting odds and ends of character. The lad Tom Chickweed—a character originally played by Mr. Buchanan’s collaborator, Miss Harriet Jay—is a case in point. He is a good-hearted waif, with many a human trait which goes straight at the heart of a general audience. The philosophic thief Jenkinson is unquestionably own cousin to our friend Elijah Coombe of “The Silver King,” and there is enough unction about the scoundrel to make him distinctly amusing after a fashion. A straightforward countryman and a garrulous Irish woman are among these episodical sketches, and if none of them are “creations,” they are at least entertaining figures. The purely mechanical sensation is wofully disappointing, there is not a thrill in it, elaborately as it is engineered. But some of the scenic effects are very good indeed, one of the best being a picture of the Houses of Parliament during a sitting of the House, as seen from the Surrey side of Westminster Bridge. By an ingenious arrangement of gas lamps, diminishing in size, a fine effect of perspective is obtained. The company engaged in the representation of the play is quite equal to any demands the authors make upon it. Miss Vera Beringer, as the sorely tried heroine, is duly emotional without becoming extravagant in either voice or gesture. Miss Sydney Fairbrother is a sympathetic Tom Chickweed, and Miss Ada Elliston, a débutante, and the daughter of a popular local manager, played a colourless part with considerable promise. Mr. William Clayton as the scoundrelly husband, Mr. Percy Bell as the comic villain, Mr. John Clyde as the good-hearted country miller, and Mr. Lonnen Meadows as a “humble professional,” in other words an itinerant street mountebank, gave creditable support.



The Staffordshire Sentinel (12 June, 1900 - p.2)



     “Alone in London” needs no introduction. The play has travelled long and far, but it still maintains its interest. And well it may, for it is a great drama. In it the dark side of London life has been vividly pictured by Robert Buchanan and Harriet Jay, who have shown us something of the evil of the great Metropolis in all its nakedness; and in the midst of all the misery and crime have placed a good woman. The success of the piece depends upon Nan, the faithful and long-suffering flower girl. At the Royal last night this part was taken by Miss Vera Beringer, who invested it with a living interest. The role is one that suits Miss Beringer well, and Nan—gentle, loving and enduring—as presented by her is a living reality. Supporting her in the caste are Miss Sydney Fairbrother, a waif and stray, whose true heartedness is at time extremely touching; Miss Bessie Foote (Mrs. Maloney) the true and good natured Irish woman; and Mr. John Clyde (slow and sure John Biddlecombe), whose noble nature everyone admired. As the villain Mr. William Clayton must be voted a great success, and he was well backed in his nefarious deeds by the “Benevolent Jenkins” (Mr. Percy Bell). One or two of the most dramatic situations necessitate quick changing of scenes. This is especially so at the Old Sluice House, where when the floodgates are thrown open old father Thames rushes in, and the miller comes to the rescue of the woman he loves so well. The production comes direct from the Princesses’ Theatre, London, and will well repay a visit.



The Era (21 July, 1900)

On Monday, July 16th, the Drama,
in a Prologue and Four Acts,
by Robert Buchanan and Harriett Jay, entitled

     One never witnesses a representation of Alone in London without thinking of the sad fate of its original heroine, Miss Amy Roselle, who impersonated Nan, the flower girl, at the production of the piece at the Olympic during the ill-fated management of Mrs Conover. The pivot of the action is the pitiless cruelty displayed throughout towards the unfortunate Nan by her husband, Richard Redcliffe—a part that was played in the first performance by Mr Herbert Standing. It now falls to the lot of Mr Charles E. Millward, whose career of dramatic villainy at Mr William Bailey’s popular theatre is punctuated with hisses and jeers from very part of the house. This tribute to his thoroughness must be taken by the actor as sufficient testimony to his success. We are afraid to say how many times Mr Percy Bell has played the part of the impostor Jenkinson, but we remember his name for years past in association with the character. Repetition does not apparently dull the edge of his appreciation of the humour of the character—occasionally sardonic. mostly obvious, but always acceptable. The part of the benevolent and good-hearted John Biddlecombe has a vein of sincere sympathy as represented by Mr John Clyde, and in the character of the waif, Tom Chickweed, the worthy West Londoners have a part entirely to their liking, and their hearts have therefore gone out to Miss Iris Ward, who invests the character with a simple pathos that never fails to tell. Miss Vera Beringer has benefited largely by her provincial experience, and though her method is broader, her acting has lost none of its daintiness or charm. The character of Nan, for its proper delineation, requires a large amount of physical energy and sustained force, and both are happily forthcoming. The part of Charlie Johnson is played with an agreeable lightness of touch by Mr Lonnen Meadows, who contributes a very entertaining character sketch. Mr Henry Beaufort’s portrait of Mr Burnaby suggests solid respectability and successful finance, and that of Walter Burnaby by Mr Roland Daniel weak-kneed resolve and faint-heartedness. Miss Ada Elliston does not lack either grace or charm as Ruth Clifton; Mr J. W. Wilkinson is decidedly effective as Spriggins; and the benevolence of Mrs Maloney, from County Cork, enables Mrs J. M. Ward to score. Liz Jenkinson is adequately represented by Miss Ada Tilley. The outcasts and mendicants are capitally made up, and care in the presentation of detail is conspicuous. The scenery, with special mechanical effects, has all the thoroughness and realism that one expects from any representation that has had the supervision of Mr J. F. Elliston, and one is lost in admiration of the fine piece of brushwork by Hemsley—Westminster Bridge and Houses of Parliament by Night. Mr Warwick Major is the courteous business-manager of the company.



The Scotsman (23 October, 1900 - p. 5)

     “Alone in London” was presented at the Grand last evening by a very strong company under the direction of Mr Robert Buchanan and Miss Harriet Jay. The part of Nan the flower girl was ably sustained by Miss Vera Beringer, and she was well supported in the drama. A large audience appeared to extract a considerable amount of pleasure from the rendering of the familiar story.



The Bath Chronicle (29 August, 1901 - p.2)


     “Alone in London,” which is being played by Mr. J. F. Elliston’s company at the Theatre Royal this week, should find full favour in the popular portions of the house. Of its kind, the play is good. In it we are shown every class of life, from a common lodging house to highest life, with most of the intermediate stages. The most striking feature of the production is the scenery, which is really very fine, views like Westminster Bridge and Trafalgar-square being exceedingly true to life. The acting of the various parts, which number 23 in all, was of a fair standard, although, the parts being very conventional, of necessity so was the acting. Miss Sidney Crowe played the heroine “Nan,” the flower girl, and received full praise for her rendering, while Mr. F. Joynsen-Powell was hissed enough even to warm a villain’s heart. John Biddlecombe was played well by Mr. W. H. Brougham, whom we fancy we have seen before in “The Little Minister.” The other parts, too, are satisfactorily filled. What is most surprising is that a man like the late Robert Buchanan should write such a play. The only explanation is that it was written so many years ago that the average theatre-goer cannot understand the public temperament in those days.



The Stage (24 July, 1902 - p.11)


     Alone in London has a strong hold on popular favour which seems to increase rather than diminish with the lapse of time, and its former triumphs are being equalled, if not excelled, at the Camden this week. A good melodrama is a most satisfying of dramatic entertainment, and no one can gainsay that the late Robert Buchanan and Harriett Jay have given us in this work a fine example of the species. Camden Town likes a play of this genre, and is never slow to mark its approbation, showing ready sympathy with the much-tried heroine and meting out groans and hisses to the crime-stained villain. The piece is acted with all-round excellence by Mr. J. F. Elliston’s company. Miss Gertrude Evans makes a distinct impression as the heroine, imparting much reality to the pathetic scenes with which the part abounds. In a totally different manner Miss Ada Tilley, an actress of the Louie Freear type, gets on good terms with the audience; she is very droll throughout, but is at her best in act one—the lodging house in Drury Lane. Miss Frances Ferina, too, wins much applause for her meritorious work as the crippled boy Tom, and Miss Bessie Foote is no less effective as Mrs. Maloney. Mr. Henry Crocker is cleverly made up as the rich and kindly banker, Mr. Burnaby, and plays in a quiet, gentlemanly manner well suited to the part. Richard Redcliffe, the villain, is enacted with force by Mr. Stephen Ewart, who makes himself thoroughly repulsive to the gallery. Spriggins is amusingly portrayed by Mr. J. W. Wilkinson, and Mr. T. H. Solly makes Jenkinson an entertaining scoundrel. Mr. Lonnen Meadows is highly successful as the humble professional, Charley Johnson, in addition to having all the cares of stage manager to the company. Mr. Arthur C. Percy plays with robust earnestness as John Biddlecombe, and is popular from his first entrance. Mr. Creagh Hunt shows ability in the few opportunities at his disposal as Walter Burnaby, and Miss Lillie Lewis is adequate to the requirements of the character of Ruth Clinton. Next week the Camden will be closed for the usual summer vacation, reopening on August Bank Holiday with The Silver King.



The Scotsman (19 August, 1902 - p.6)


     “Alone in London,” by the late Robert Buchanan and Harriet Jay, is the play at the Theatre Royal this week, and as usual when this drama comes to Edinburgh, the cheaper parts of the theatre were crowded last night. The company responsible for the production—Mr J. F. Elliston’s—is a capable one, and the drama suffers nothing in its representation. The villainy of the swell mobsman and his accomplices, the sufferings of the heroine and her child, the benevolence of the rich banker, and the humour of the “professional” and his wife, were all brought out effectively, and the audience hissed, cheered, and laughed heartily in turn. The swell mobsman was capably represented by Mr Stephen Ewart, and Mr J. W. Wilkinson and Mr T. H. Solly were successful in the characters of his accomplices. As Nan, the heroine, Miss Gertrude Evans won the sympathy of the audience. The other members were capable performers.



The Dundee Courier (14 October, 1902 - p.5)



     A huge holiday audience met in Her Majesty’s Theatre last night, and one which applauded virtue and hooted vice in no measured terms.
     “Alone in London” is—saving, perhaps, “The Silver King,” “The Lights o’ London,” and “In the Ranks”—the best melodrama written in the end of last century, and it has on the occasion of its present production an accentuated interest from the fact that since it was last performed here its male parent has joined the great majority. Robert Buchanan was a genius of whom, with all his eccentricity and waywardness of taste and style, Scotland may well be proud, and so far as the dramatic world is concerned he will probably be remembered best as the joint author, with Miss Harriet Jay—whose name is unaccountably omitted from some of the current bills—of that admirable drama, “Alone in London.” The play has been so often produced here that even to suggest an idea of the plot would be assuming a knowledge which is common to many besides ourselves.
     Mr J. F. Elliston’s “original” company is largely composed of strangers to Dundee, and is by no means the best company which has produced “Alone in London” here. Of the last company Miss Ada Tilley, as Liz Jenkinson, and Miss Lonnen meadows, as Charley Johnson, are, we think, the sole representatives. Both play with vigour and humour, and thorough comprehension of their respective roles. If we mistake not Miss Bessie Foote, who gave an entirely sympathetic and artistic performance of the part of Mrs Maloney, is no stranger to the role, and Mr Arthur C. Percy, if new to the part of John Biddlecombe, is well known in Dundee. He makes the genial miller somewhat elderly and certainly “slow,” as well as “sure,” but there is an amount of manly, honest dignity about his impersonation which is quite satisfactory.
     Miss Gertrude Evans as Annie Meadows is better in the play than in the prologue, in which she is a trifle hard, and Miss Frances Ferina is wonderfully natural as Tom Chickweed. Mr Stephen T. Ewart is quite too gentlemanly as Richard Redcliffe, but he speaks with distinction and point. Miss Lillie Lewis is attractive as Ruth Clinton.
     Mr Stafford Smith is a genial Mr Burnaby, and Mr F. O’Neill a useful but youthful Jenkinson. Many other parts are well filled, and the performance is one which should attract all those who are fond of drama in its best and most attractive term.



The Manchester Courier (24 August, 1909 - p.10)



     “Alone in London” is one of these good old melodramas which seem to wear well. Perhaps the chief reason of this is that it gives a picture—realistic perhaps—of the elemental emotions peculiar to mankind, leavened with that sense of humour without which life even in its most tragic phases would be impossible. This drama has appeared already on many a provincial stage, but nowhere should we think has it been so well presented as it was last night at the Queen’s, Manchester. Indeed, Mr. Charles Gibbon has to be congratulated on its excellent presentation by a company who individually and with a proper sense of proportion understood their respective parts. ... Miss Nellie Clyde, as “Nan, the Flower Girl,” filled her part effectively, whether grave or gay; and Mr. Russell Norrie, Mr. Gerald Jordan, Mr. J. W. Wilkinson, and Mr. Henry Eglington imbued the drama with that atmosphere intended at least by one of its authors, Mr. Robert Buchanan. Again we have seen decidedly worse scenery and worse stage setting in “more pretentious” dramas.



The Guardian (25 August, 1909 - p.7)

     “ALONE IN LONDONAT THE QUEEN’S.—At the Queen’s Theatre this week a company directed by Mr. Charles Gibbon gives “Alone in London” once more. The company includes several members who have experience in good work, and the play has the touch of talent that was in everything written by Robert Buchanan—in this case a collaborator with Miss Harriett Jay.



The Daily Mirror (21 June, 1910 - p.7)

     The veterans of the English stage are passing away with a disquieting rapidity. Last week Hermann Vezin, on Sunday morning his old companion and fast personal friend, Henry Neville. It is good to remember that Vezin and Neville, together with that fine actor and sterling good fellow, “Lal” Brough, made their last appearance side by side in Sir Herbert Tree’s revival of “The School for Scandal,” not quite twelve months ago, at His Majesty’s Theatre.

     It is a far cry back to May 27, 1863, when, at the old Olympic, by his creation of the part of Bob Brierley, Neville pulled the veteran Planché out of his stall at the first fall of the curtain with the triumphant and historical cry: “Thank heaven, at last, at last we have an actor!” Born in 1837, he was then only twenty-six years of age, and yet could boast of twenty-three years of actual theatrical experience. He had made his first appearance at the tender age of three, carried on in the arms of his father as the infant in Sheridan’s “Pizarro.” His father had destined him for the Army, but he headed for the stage with the certain instinct of genius sure of itself, like a duck to water. Years of bitter hard work in the provinces, in every conceivable kind of part, had given him the surety of touch, the perfection of method, for which, as a metropolitan actor, he was from the first remarkable.

     He was nearing his sixtieth year when he was cast for the part of the hero in Robert Buchanan’s “Alone in London,” a jolly, boyish Yorkshireman in the early twenties. “Are you quite sure you can ‘get there,’ Neville?” asked the author, with easily excusable nervousness. “My dear boy,” replied Neville, “I am an actor. If I undertook to play the part of a baby in a cradle I’d pull it off.” The little story is as good a portrait of the man as could be furnished by a ten-volume biography. Almost to the last he carried his years with astonishing lightness, both on and off the stage. The English stage to-day is the poorer by a fine artist, the world in general by a true man, a loyal friend, and a right good fellow. His private life was touched, years ago, by a bitter tragedy, and he had besides his full share of the more ordinary rubs of life, but few men have borne either the great or petty ills of mortality with a more cheerful face or with a serener courage.


[Advert from The Scotsman (12 August, 1910).]


The Aberdeen Daily Journal (16 August, 1910 - p.4)




     “Alone in London” has held its place continuously on the stage for about twenty years, and still its popularity knows no decline. When produced in Aberdeen the play never fails to win cordial appreciation, because of the skilful blending of pathos and humour, the wealth of stirring incident, and the vivid contrasts presented by the large number of strongly-marked characters. The author, Robert Buchanan, was not always happy in his literary ventures, but his writing for the stage was remarkable for its virility and sincerity, and these are perhaps the qualities that have mainly contributed to give “Alone in London,” its wonderful vitality. Last night a large audience had the pleasure of seeing the drama to the fullest advantage, all the parts being filled by thoroughly competent players. Miss Nellie Clyde, as Annie Meadows, afterwards known in London as “Nan, the Flower Girl,” gained the sympathy of the audience at once by her grace and simplicity in the earlier scenes, and her pathetic pourtrayal of the sorrows and sufferings of Nan, after her life has been blighted by the vile artifices of a heartless scoundrel, was deeply impressive. The miller, John Biddlecombe, a bluff, hearty, honest fellow, who comes to the rescue of Nan when she has been brought to the verge of despair, found a capital representative in Mr W. S. Stevenson, whose breezy and dashing style was exactly suited to the part. Mr Charles Gibbon “played the villain” in a vigorous and incisive fashion, that earned for him the stern reprobation of the gallery—a compliment that the capable actor no doubt fully appreciated. It will be remembered that the gang of scoundrels, under the leadership of Dick Redcliffe, boasts of a philosopher in the person of “Old Jenkinson,” whose reflections impart a quaint piquancy to his knavery. This character was assigned to Mr J. W. Wilkinson, whose “make-up” was a marvel of skill, and whose assumption of imperturbable self-complacency was diverting in the extreme. Mr Bruce Lindley played brightly as the light-hearted actor, Charlie Johnson, and Miss Ethel F. Greene displayed the requisite simplicity and tenderness as Tom Chickweed. A hearty word of praise is due to the other members of the company, who are to be congratulated on the unequivocal success of a representation the effect of which was enhanced by elaborate scenic and mechanical accessories.


The Evening Telegraph (Angus, Scotland) (23 August, 1910 - p.5)


“Alone in London.”

     Laughter and tears come pretty close together in this famous melodrama. Probably much of the humour which convulsed the house last night was not to be found in the original form of Robert Buchanan and Harriet Jay’s famous play; but, be that as it may, the fun, some new, some very hoary, quite pleased the popular portion of the audience. There could be no mistake about the sympathetic responses which came from the gallery during the more poignant and touching passages, and the hissing and spontaneous ejaculations which greeted the villain’s cruel treatment of his wife and child bore testimony to the fact that many present found the drama very much to their taste.
     The company sent and headed by Mr Charles Gibbon acted with considerable power. Miss Nellie Clyde made a pleasing impression as Nan, the flower girl, and little Hetty Hornsby was decidedly clever as Little Paul, the heroine’s son. As Tom Chickweed, Miss Ethel F. Greene was uncommonly good. She brought a pathos and sincerity into the character and there was a sad wistfulness about poor Tom that touched all hearts. Mr Charles Gibbon was a polished villain, whose callousness sometimes seemed unnatural, but his Dick Redcliffe was a clever performance. The hypocritical vagaries of Old Jenkinson were well shown by Mr J. W. Wilkinson.



The Dundee Courier (23 August, 1910 - p.6)



     It is eight years since Robert Buchanan’s and Harriet Jay’s famous play was last presented in Dundee. Prior to that we used to have biennial productions of it, and in all the play has now seen something like 25 years of life.
     That a drama can so long last, and still be received with enthusiasm, speaks volumes for its sincerity and truthfulness. The motives of “Alone in London” have been used before—and often since—its production, but they are so broad, so human, and so sympathetic that last night the old play went as well as ever. The gallery and even other parts of the house punctuated the performance with audible marks of their sympathy with virtue in distress, and their abhorrence of vice.
     That gentlemanly scoundrel, Dick Redcliffe, and that unctuous old hypocrite, Jenkinson, both earned the due detestation of the house, and the troubles of the loyal-hearted Nan, of the faithful Tom Chickweed, and the innocent Little Paul drew forth the tenderest sympathy.
     Mr Charles Gibbon’s Company, by which, under arrangement with Mr J. F. Elliston, the play is performed, gave a capital show.
     There is not a badly cast part in the programme, and there are some of notable excellence.
     One of the best performances is that of Miss Ethel F. Greene as Tom Chickweed. She thoroughly enters into the heart of the role, and in voice and action gives a picturesque and poignant portrait of a kind-hearted London gamin. Miss Nellie Clyde’s Nan is a finely sympathetic performance of a long and difficult role, and Little Hetty Hornsby as Little Paul displays a really wonderful amount of dramatic instinct.
     Mr Charles Gibbon makes a most gentlemanly yet forceful Dick Redcliffe. The part is a horrible one, and it was played with artistic fidelity. Mr J. W. Wilkinson’s Jenkinson was extremely clever. Mr W. S. Stevenson made a manly and telling John Biddlecombe. The other parts were all capably filled, and the scenery was quite satisfactory.


I have to thank Meredith Lawrence for this postcard of Little Hetty Hornsby c. 1910 (printed by Stafford & Co. Ltd., Netherfield, Nottinghamshire). I also came across this mention of her in the Newcastle Daily Journal (2 August, 1910) in a review of another play, The Little Stranger:

“As the midget Tom Pennyman, little Miss Hetty Hornsby quite took the house by storm last night. Her impersonation of the baby who smoked cigarettes, drank his father’s whisky, and otherwise persuaded the credulous Mrs Dick that the soul of her vanished husband had reappeared in the body of Dick, jun., was, to say the least of it, exceedingly smart and droll withal.”


[Advert for Alone in London from The Walsall Advertiser (17 September, 1910 - p.1).]


The Era (8 October, 1913 - p.15)


. . .

     STANDARD THEATRE.—L., Mr. Leonard Rayne.—The Howitt-Phillips company are concluding their season by the revival of the evergreen melodramas “Alone in London” and “Two Little Vagabonds.”



In August 1915 a film version of Alone in London was released, directed by Larry Trimble and starring Florence Turner. The details are as follows:

Directed by Larry Trimble
Produced by Turner Film Company

Florence Turner         Nan Meadows
Henry Edwards           John Biddlecombe
Edward Lingard         Redcliffe
James Lindsay           Chick
Amy Lorraine             Mrs. Burnaby
Format: 35 mm. Length: 5 reels / 4525 feet.
BFI synopsis: “A crook tries to make a thief of his boss's son and ties a flower girl to gate of canal lock.”

Hal Erickson in the All Movie Guide gives the following information:

“American film star Florence Turner is Alone in London in this 4-reel British mystery. Turner goes against the grain of her established screen image by playing a meaty character role as a woman inexorably involved in crime. Henry Edwards co-stars as one of the “good guys,” while Edward Lingard represents the “bad” contingent. Ms. Turner, the onetime “Vitagraph Girl,” was herself the producer of Alone in London; it was the last in a successful series of British productions financed by Ms. Turner in conjunction with England’s pioneer filmmaker Cecil M. Hepworth. The director was Larry Trimble, Turner’s lifelong friend. Alone in London was based on a play by Harriet Jay and Robert Buchanan, which presumably ran longer than the film’s allotted 48 minutes.”


The All Movie Guide also has this brief biography of Florence Turner:

“At age three Florence Turner began appearing in stage productions, and was already a veteran actress when she joined Vitagraph at age 21; the year was 1906 and the dawn of popular cinema was at hand. Credited only as the Vitagraph Girl, she became one of the screen’s first stars. In 1913, she went to England with Larry Trimble, her frequent director and long-time friend; they performed together in London music halls and formed Turner Films, their own production company. Turner sometimes co-wrote and/or directed her own films. From 1916-20 she lived in the U.S.; from       1920-24 in England; and after 1924 in Hollywood. However, her popularity had greatly decreased as the popularity of films boomed; she went on to play secondary roles and eventually had to beg for work. In the ’30s she was put on the MGM payroll, but it was an act of charity: she was used only as an extra and in bit parts.”

And there is more information about Florence Turner at the Women Film Pioneers Project.


The Argus (Melbourne, Australia) (30 August, 1915 - p.10)


     A fine film adaptation of Robert Buchanan’s play “Alone in London,” the story of which is familiar, through its previous stage representation in Melbourne, was the principal feature of the new programme of Spencer’s Pictures displayed at the Majestic Theatre on Saturday. The story is effectively reproduced on the screen, and the cinema actress Miss Florence Turner gives a splendid portrayal of the role of Nan, betrayed and deserted by a profligate husband, and fighting for the sake of her child against the machinations of the rogues who seek to lay the blame of their crime on the shoulders of the brave, innocent little girl. In this effort Miss Turner is seen at her best, and the audience follow with absorbing interest the stirring adventures of a country lass in the highways and byways of mighty London. Another attractive and enjoyable film was onme depicting the Royal Naval Division at work and at play. The Topical Gazettes—Australian and European—were replete with interesting matter, and a new Charles Chaplin comedy, “A Woman,” was thoroughly enjoyed.

majestic ad

[Advert from The Argus (27 August, 1915 - p.14).]


[Advert from The Nottingham Evening Post (20 September, 1915 - p.3).]


The Grey River Argus (New Zealand) (29 March,1916 - p.6)



     What memories of Bland Holt and his splendid melodrama performances are revived by the name “Alone in   London.” This very successful melodrama ranks with the great “The White Heather,” “New Babylon,” and other productions too numerous to mention that were all the rage during this wonderful actor-manager’s career. “Alone in London” is the true type of play so dear to the heart of a Londoner; full of quick, snappy dialogue; magnetic with sensational incident after incident, that culminate in the true dramatic situation. This story of a woman fighting against great odds to evade the pitfalls that beset the life of a girl in the poorest, richest, brightest and darkest city in the world, gains additional strength in the cinema production, inasmuch that scenes which were timber, calico and paint were relied upon for the background, whereas in the photoplay we have the true city scenes—the huge luminous crowds of this mighty  city, throbbing and pulsating for a setting. “Nan,” the country maiden, is impersonated by the most charming of all cinema actresses, Miss Florence Turner. The moving picture panorama of scene and life in the great Metropolis forms attraction enough without the aid of the powerful play of which it is only an incident. “Alone in London” forms the whole of the second part of to-night’s display, and starts at 9.10 p.m. The first portion of the programme consists of a Gaumont scenic study of a village in Upper Egypt, situated on the Nile, entitled “A Trip to Leexor”; a Flying A. domestic drama, “The Problem”; the Vitagraph comedy, “The Right Girl,” the latest number of the animated Gaumont Graphic, and music by the full orchestra.



The Morpeth Herald (19 May, 1916 - p.8)


     In these times of stress a good laugh is certainly beneficial, and to secure this “Charles the Great” at the Playhouse tonight (Friday) and Saturday, in “Charlie at the Bank” will justify the investment if you want to laugh in the face of everything. “Simon, the Jester” is also shown, when Edwin Arden, a familiar figure on the screen at the Playhouse is seen to advantage. A picture appealing to almost everyone, adapted from the Robert Buchanan’s famous play, “Alone in London,” will be screened on Sunday night first—a stirring portrayal of the exploits of a country lass in London’s dark byeways. The story, beginning in a tumble-down hovel in a London slum depicts a ragged lad who becomes the unwilling instrument of swell cracksmen. The scene, finding scope, winds its way into the heart of a beautiful countryside, where the dreams of the heroine, after a period of unparalleled hardship ends up with her shaking the dust of a modern Babylon from her feet and finding happiness at last amid the country meadows she loves so well. In five parts, this picture, featuring Florence Turner, should not be missed.


[More reviews on the Robert Buchanan Filmography page, and Florence Turner’s 1914 comic short, Daisy Doodad’s Dial, is available on youtube.]



And, finally, I came across this in The Stage (31 August, 1922 - p.22):


Which I thought was the end of the line for Alone in London, until I found this advert in The Stage (4 October, 1923 - p.21):


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The Fleshly School Controversy
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