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


49. The Romance of the Shopwalker (1896) - continued


The Sketch (1 April, 1896 - p.25-28)

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The Theatre (1 April,1896)

An Original Comedy, in Three Acts, by ROBERT BUCHANAN and CHARLES MARLOWE. Produced at
the Vaudeville Theatre, February 26.

Thomas Tomkins         ...  Mr. WEEDON GROSSMITH
The Earl of Doverdale  ...  Mr. SYDNEY WARDEN
Captain Dudley             ...   Mr. SYDNEY BROUGH
Mr Samuel Hubbard    ...  Mr. FREDERICK VOLPE
Alexander MacCollop  ...  Mr. DAVID JAMES
Mr Catchem                 ...   Mr. C. H. FENTON

Conningsby               ...   Mr. T. HESSLEWOOD
A Shopman              ...  Mr. SKINNER
Lady Munro             ...  Miss M. TALBOT
Lady Evelyn              ...   Miss MAY PALFREY
Lady Mabel             ...  Miss NINA BOUCICAULT
Dorothy Hubbard    ...  Miss ANNIE HILL
Mrs Tomkins            ...   Miss M. A. VICTOR

     In the opinion of the modern dramatist the expression “original" is apparently fraught with something of the peculiar fragrance popularly supposed to confer blessedness upon the word “Mesopotamia.” On no other grounds can its use—or rather abuse—be reasonably accounted for. To quarrel with Mr. Robert Buchanan and Mr. Charles Marlowe merely because they have followed a fashionable custom would, therefore, be absurd. Yet it may be permissible to remind them that in days remote a well-known novelist, named Samuel Warren, wrote and published a romance called £10,000 A Year, which even now has a certain vogue among readers of light literature. Mr. Warren’s hero was a Mr. Tittlebat Titmouse, and it is surprising, when one comes to compare the doings of both, how close is the resemblance between his adventures and those of Mr. Thomas Tomkins, the protagonist of Messrs. Buchanan and Marlowe’s new and original comedy. Pereant illi qui ante nos nostra dixerunt is an axiom, however, which never seems to lose its application, and which few authors, since its first utterance, have not been tempted to employ at some period of their career. So to Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Marlowe let us in all charity give the benefit of the doubt, and admit that, if to others more widely acquainted with English literature there is a familiar air about the story of The Romance of the Shopwalker, to them it probably appears to be the very epitome of all that is novel and original. So far as our readers are concerned, let each judge for himself. Thomas Tomkins, a counter-jumper in the “Bon Marché” at Dorking, has indiscreetly allowed himself to fall in love with Lady Evelyn, the beautiful and accomplished daughter of the Earl of Doverdale, much, be it said, to the grief of pretty little Dorothy Hubbard, who silently worships the ambitious Thomas. An unexpected windfall, in the shape of a fortune yielding £20,000 a year, places Thomas in a position to realise his fondest dreams, and to become a suitor for the hand of the fair Evelyn, who not unnaturally regards him with contemptuous indifference, while bestowing her affections upon her cousin, handsome young Captain Dudley. But the Earl is impecunious, his estates are heavily mortgaged, and to save papa from impending ruin Lady Evelyn consents to become the wife of aspiring Thomas. This latter, however, proves to be a better fellow than anyone suspected, seeing that, on recognition of his mistake, he with graceful magnanimity releases Lady Evelyn from her promise, places her in the arms of Captain Dudley, and, after presenting the Earl with the title-deeds of his estates free of all liabilities, turns for consolation to his old sweetheart, Dorothy. If, in the treatment of this simple tale, the authors have shown no great wit or humour, they have at any rate supplied a fair measure of rough-and-ready fun, sufficient in itself to keep the average audience thoroughly amused. In Thomas Tomkins, Mr. Weedon Grossmith finds a congenial part, which is none the less effective because, beneath a vulgar manner, can be detected indications of a kind and generous nature. Miss May Palfrey as Lady Evelyn played sympathetically and gracefully, although a certain indistinctness could occasionally be noted in her delivery. Judged purely from the standpoint of acting, Miss Nina Boucicault’s performance of the high-spirited, sweet-natured Lady Mabel was quite the best of the evening. Mr. David James gave an admirable sketch of a canny Scotchman, and Miss M. A. Victor a genuinely amusing portrait of a vulgar but well-meaning old woman. A word of praise is also due to Miss M. Talbot’s Lady Munro, and to Mr. Frederick Volpe’s Samuel Hubbard.



The New York Dramatic Mirror (11 April, 1896 - p.18)



[Special Correspondence of The Mirror.]

                                                                                                                           LONDON, March 27, 1896.

. . .

     Certain theatrical journalists are wondering (in print) why Robert Buchanan is keeping so quiet concerning the charge of plagiarism which (as I fully described to you) the novelist-playwright, Christie Murray, brought against him with regard to The Romance of the Shopwalker. You will remember that Christie charged Robert (and his collaborator the so-called “Charles Marlowe”—who is Harriet Jay) with having conveyed this play from his (Murray’s) story, The Way of the World, and added that he once started a play himself on the subject and asked Robert to collaborate therein.
     Up to now, the only “answer” to Murray’s charge has come from Mrs. “Charles,” who states (what every critic guessed) that the source of the play was Samuel Warren’s Ten Thousand a Year, which (as “Charles” or Harriett naively adds) may also have been the basis of Murray’s story. Robert’s own silence in the matter is difficult to understand, for he is seldom silent about anything, but generally takes a pen in each hand and avails himself of the potentiality of boundless ink. However, he may only be taking a little breather after his late volcanic onslaught on William Archer, the critic. R. B.’s letters to W. A. are (as W. S. might say) still extant and written in the choicest Billingsgate.



The Sheffield Evening Telegraph and Star (30 April, 1896 - p.3)

     The dramatic novelty next week, so far as Sheffield is concerned, will be the production at the City Theatre of “The Romance of the Shop-walker.” Mr. Weedon Grossmith—who is acquiring a reputation as surely, if more slowly, than his brilliant brother George—heads the company, which is for once what it claims to be—the company which presented the same play during its run in the Metropolis. Miss May Palfrey, Miss Millie Thorne, Miss Annie Hill, Miss Nannie Goldman, Mr. Blake Adams, and Mr. C. H. Fenton are amongst the artistes engaged in the production, which has the further advantage of the employment of all the original scenery and effects. “The Romance of the Shop-walker,” which is the joint production of Mr. Robert Buchanan and “Charles Marlowe” (Miss Harriet Jay) obtained a very favourable reception in London, and Sheffield, which is the first provincial city visited, will probably endorse the verdict.



The Sheffield Daily Telegraph (5 May, 1896 - p.7)


     Mr. Weedon Grossmith brings with him to the City Theatre in “The Romance of a Shopwalker,” the entire company which has been playing so acceptably at the Vaudeville Theatre. It is almost needless to say that Mr. Weedon Grossmith is fully equal to his reputation, and his reputation is now accepted as an historical fact in theatrical circles. “The Shopwalker,” as he presents him to the spectators, is a creation of a very whimsical character. Even when true to life—to what one sees in shopping expeditions—the humour of the actor prevails in little light touches infinitely amusing. His eccentricities are not of the broad burlesque type. They are delicate, and insinuated with a knowledge of what most tickles an entertainment-loving public. The piece itself is by Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe, and a very interesting comedy they have produced—one with a decided flavour of novelty, and possessing merit of an exceptional kind. The story revolves round the fortunes, or rather the fortune, of this shopwalker, with the very plebian patronymic of Tompkins. But Tompkins has aspired before he came to the fortune, and his eyes have lighted on the Lady Evelyn (Miss May Palfrey), a sweet and altogether charming representation. It is no wonder the Shopwalker raves about her beauty, and despairingly ejaculates, “Why was I not nobly born?” Being the inheritor of £20,000 a year—fortunes invariably come in substantial round figures in the drama—he is just as easily able to lay claim to her hand. He soon secures the assent of the Earl of Doverdale (Mr. Charles Goodhart), that poverty-stricken aristocrat viewing the suitor mainly in the glitter of his shekels. But aristocratic surroundings and a loveless wife are not to the taste of Mr. Tompkins, and he finally returns to the daughter of his former employer and settles down very comfortably with Dorothy Hubbard (Miss Annie Hill). This, in outline, is the romance told by Messrs. Buchanan and Marlowe. The company interpret it admirably. Among the ladies, in addition to those mentioned, there are Miss Hilda Thorpe and Miss Milly Thorne, Miss M. A. Victor plays the widowed mother of Tompkins with both pathos and humour. The humour, while it tickles, is so refreshingly natural. Mr. Herbert Sleith, Mr. C. H. Fenton, Mr. Willoughby West, Mr. Renners, Mr. J. Simmonds, and Mr. R. Skinner all deserve mention, and Mr. Blake Adams, the lawyer’s clerk, with the painfully Scottish accent, needs more than the passing tribute of a word on his eminently successful portrayal. A one-act play, which was very much of a tragedy, began the performance. Mr. H. M. Paull’s “Spy,” if somewhat grueful in its ending, was an admirable foil to the lighter performance which followed. Mr. Stacey ought this week to be rewarded with crowded houses at the City. Last night’s audience was certainly appreciative, but the numbers in the house should be greatly augmented during the remaining performances.



The Freeman’s Journal (Dublin) (20 May, 1896 - p.6)



     On Monday night a densely crowded audience, as already stated, attended the performance at the Gaiety of “The Romance of the Shopwalker,” produced by the Vaudeville Company. It is the latest work by Mr Robert Buchanan and Mr Charles Marlowe, and it is infinitely better deserving than any of its more immediate predecessors of public patronage and approval. Its great charm at present is that it affords an excellent opportunity to Mr Weedon Grossmith to make a really good impression by his performance as Thomas Tompkins, and to Miss M A Victor of achieving a genuine artistic triumph as the Widow Tompkins. Unlike many plays of the kind the plot is easily told, and it is really surprising how much is made out of materials so slight. The reason of this is that the action, save in the second part, is concentrated, the characters well defined, and the text is a pleasant relief, in that it presents so little straining after effect. Thomas Tompkins is a character not unknown to the stage—one born in humble circumstances but with a soul that yearns for nobler things than a draper’s counter and the cry of “Cashier, forward,” and who repines all day that he “was not nobly born.” He falls in love with a society beauty, Lady Evelyn Munro, who visits his master’s shop to meet her lover, Captain Dudley. A sudden, and, of course, utterly unexpected accession of wealth left by the customary good old uncle who died abroad, enables Tompkins to achieve portion at least of his ambition, and to move with the usual awkwardness in the “upper circles,” where his demeanour constantly reveals the manners of “the shopwalker”. He visits the mansion of the Earl of Doverdale, the father of Evelyn, and becomes a candidate in the Conservative interest for the borough. He holds at this time the inevitable “mortgage deeds,” which place the impoverished Earl very much in his power, and through the instrumentality of a terrible but most amusing Scotchman, one Alexander McCollop, who poses as his “guardian angel,” with ulterior views for “himself”—a marriage is arranged with Evelyn, who consents to save her father and the family estates. When, however, Tompkins, who is at heart a really good fellow, learns the true state of the case, he, with genuine dramatic generosity, gives her ladyship the mortgage deeds as a wedding present, whilst he himself learns to reciprocate the latent love of Dorothy Hubbard, the gentle daughter of his old employer.
     The play was excellently acted throughout, and the applause of the audience gave the most unmistakeable evidence of its having seized upon the public sympathy and good will. No better piece of character acting has been seen at the Gaiety for many a long day than that of Miss Victor as the honest old Widow Tompkins. She had not been five minutes on the stage before her exceptional gifts were recognised, and she at once stepped into a high position in the esteem and admiration of her hearers. Me Weedon Grossmith—mainly, no doubt, through compliment to his brother, for he himself was practically unknown here—was most warmly received, and his acting more than justified all we had heard of him as a comedian of very considerable powers and versatility. There are touches of pathos too in his performance which deserve to be noticed—witness his manly resentment at the jeers levelled at his mother. This might easily have been made ineffective by being overdone in less skillful hands. In the last act his interview with Lady Evelyn was particularly good, and therefore deserving of all praise. Why or wherefore this particular interview should be accompanied by a trembling violoncello obligato it puzzles the mind of man to conceive. That it did not make the episode ludicrous is an additional tribute to the actor. As McCollop, irreverently described by the widow as “Three pen’north of Scotch,” Mr Blake Adams did uncommonly well. He may or may not be to the manner born, but his broad Scotch was irresistibly entertaining. Mr Fenton appeared as Mr Samuel Hubbard, of the “Bon Marche,” and Miss May Palfrey as Miss Milly Thorne as Lady Evelyn and Lady Mabel respectively, and Miss Hill as Dorothy. Mr Herbert Sleith looked and acted the part of Capt Dudley very well. The first act of the comedy is unquestionably the best, but it is all sufficiently good to afford a most agreeable experience. It was capitally put on the stage.



The Glasgow Herald (9 June, 1896 - p.4)



     For the season of the year the attendance at the Royalty Theatre last night reached almost record dimensions. The interest was occasioned by the production of “The Shopwalker,” a comedy which comes to us with something of a London reputation. The performance did not belie the most favourable anticipations. Written around a theme hackneyed almost to attenuation, and constructed of the most flimsy material, the comedy is, nevertheless, vastly entertaining. This is due to the cleverness of the acting rather than the skill of the authors. Indeed, the dialogue at more than one point runs pretty well to seed, and the inevitable issue of the romance can be discerned practically from the opening. The story may be indicated in little more than a sentence. It is the case of a young man in the humble position of a draper’s assistant unexpectedly inheriting great wealth, and carrying his plebeian manners and shopwalking obsequiousness with him into his new social surroundings. He seeks to win the affection of a lady of title, but only succeeds in intensifying her dislike for him. In good old-fashioned style her father suddenly finds himself bordering upon bankruptcy, and in order to save the family fortunes the lady reluctantly gives her hand where her heart can never be—in other words, to the dapper little shopwalker, whose name, by the way, is Tompkins. Unlike the usual stage parvenu, the present specimen is not wholly lacking in manly spirit and gentlemanly instinct, and when he learns that the lady whom he had sought to win on his merits, as it were, is really offering herself on the altar of filial duty he magnanimously renounces his claim and transfers his affections to the daughter of his former employer. A good deal of the trouble in the story is brought about by the self- interested scheming of a very inferior limb of the law. Why this individual should be represented as a Scotchman is hard to understand. The authors are Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe. It would be interesting to know “which of them hath done this.” Anyhow, the character is atrociously incongruous, and is altogether too suggestive of a certain touch of “local colour,” sometimes appropriately enough introduced into pantomime. The piece, however, as has been said, is thoroughly enjoyable—thanks mainly to the acting. Mr Weedon Grossmith really makes the comedy by his clever sketch in the title character. He plays it in admirable spirit, taking out of it the very utmost that it is capable of yielding, and doing it in a singularly easy and captivating way. He is ably assisted. Miss May Palfrey plays an important part very effectively, although with evident reserve. Miss Victor gives us a strongly-coloured picture of the shopwalker’s mother, but, like all her work, it is the production of an artist. Other parts are also well played by Misses Hilda Thorpe, Milly Thorne, and Annie Hill; Messrs Charles Goodhart, R. Melton, C. H. Fenton, and Blake Adams. The engagement is limited to the present week.



The Newcastle Courant (20 June, 1896 - p.5)

     “The Romance of the Shopwalker,” which Mr Weedon Grossmith has produced at the Royal this week, though unconvincing, possesses many inherent qualities essential to the success of dramatic work. Nothing could be more charming than the scene in which Tomkins relinquishes Lady Evelyn to Captain Dudley. But upon the other hand it is surely a clumsy contrivance to make the daughter of an earl meet her lover clandestinely in the back premises of a cheap linen draper’s shop, or to announce the result of a Parliamentary election ten minutes after the close of the poll. Of course we are prepared to hear that the exigencies of the stage demand these concessions to conventionality. Nothing of the kind. The works of our greatest playwrights prove that the exigencies of the stage make no such demand, and that blemishes of this description are only a sign of weakness, if not of incompetency. Robert Buchanan has in his time produced good literary work and his collaborator, Miss Harriet Jay, who modestly conceals her identity under the nom de plume of “Charles Marlowe,” is a capable actress, but they are not likely to enhance their reputation with “The Romance of the Shopwalker.” Less experienced actors replace Messrs Sydney Warden, Sidney Brough, F. Volpe, and others, who appeared in the original cast. Miss May Palfrey is sweet and beautiful as the daughter of an impoverished peer, though unequal to the stronger passages in a somewhat exacting part. As the shopwalker’s mother Miss M. A. Victor excites much laughter. That she has transformed a character brimful of pathos into a comic ld woman is inexplicable. Mr Blake Adams lends valuable aid as a lawyer’s clerk. Mr Weedon Grossmith in the title role acts with that consummate skill which has placed him in the forefront of leading actors. It was in 1888 that we first saw Mr Grossmith. He was then playing “Jacques Stroppe” to Henry Irving’s “Robert Macaire” at the Lyceum; this old drama having been “put up” as an after-piece to “The Amber Heart,” in which Miss Ellen Terry and Mr George Alexander proved so successful. The clever brother of Mr George Grossmith had just forsaken the painter’s art for that of the  stage, and Henry Irving’s sound judgment was proved in his selection of a comparatively unknown man to play such an important role. Since then Mr Weedon Grossmith has fulfilled important engagements at the Court, Terry’s, Avenue, Shaftesbury, and other leading theatres. Some time ago he became lessee of the Vaudeville, and there produced the successful farcical play, “The New Boy.” His part in “The Romance of the Shopwalker” is one calculated to bring his peculiar powers into great prominence. He stands unequalled as an exponent of that unpleasant creature, a London snob. “Thomas Tomkins” is a loveable little man, and the regard he entertains for his vulgar old mother is almost pathetic in its intensity. This is Mr Grossmith’s first visit to Newcastle, and it is to be regretted that better support has not rewarded his efforts. The intense heat had prevented many from visiting the theatre, but as a matter of fact it is far cooler in the Grey Street house than in the streets, there being a perfect system of ventilation, filling the building with a fresh supply of pure air every fifteen minutes.



The Guardian (30 June, 1896 - p.9)



     This is a “domestic” comedy by Mr. Robert Buchanan and Mr. Charles Marlowe, and it was presented last night, for the first time in Manchester, by Mr. Weedon Grossmith’s company. It is bright and amusing, and had an instant success with the audience. The point of the play is to give £20,000 a year to a draper’s assistant with a salary of 15s. a week and everything else to correspond, and put him in Doverdale Castle to make love to an earl’s daughter. This is the character Mr. Grossmith takes, and it is broad work which he does extremely well and never overdoes. He has trouble, of course, with his aspirates, and slaps the stately old earl on the back; but it is not in such surface things that the merit and the humour of the performance consist. Mr. Tompkins has about him what may be called secondary symptoms of the shop, and these are as a rule extremely amusing—as, for instance, when he is proposing to the Lady Evelyn he takes up her fan and unconsciously measures the ribbon in yard lengths. The story is very well told, and we leave the shopwalker at the end of it with rather a kindly feelings, in spite of his social shortcomings. Mr. Blake Adams as McCollop, a lawyer’s clerk, makes some good points, if some of them are at the expense of McCollop’s country. The old earl, whose poverty leads him for a time to think of Tompkins as a son-in-law, is played with a convincing enough air by Mr. Charles Goodhart, and the women of the family are also presented in a satisfactory way, though Miss Victor as the mother of the shopwalker makes perhaps a stronger impression on the audience. A pleasant little one-act play, “In Nelson’s Days,” precedes the comedy.



The Era (24 October, 1896 - p.10)

On Monday, Oct. 19th, the New and Original Comedy,
in Three Acts, by Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlow,

Thomas Tomkins       ..........    Mr HARRY WRIGHT
The Earl of Doverdale  ......     Mr FRANK STRIBLEY
Captain Dudley         ..........    Mr JULIUS ROYSTON
Mr Samuel Hubbard    ......     Mr ERNEST MAINWARING
Alexander McCollop   ......     Mr A. RULE PYOTT
Mr Catchem             ..........    Mr GEORGE MOSTYN
Conningsby               ..........    Mr A. DENNIS
Shopman                  ..........    Mr CHARLES LEIGHTON
Lady Munro             ..........     Miss HILDA THORPE
Lady Evelyn              ..........    Miss PHYLLIS LESLIE
Lady Mabel             ..........     Miss LILIAN WATSON
Dorothy Hubbard    ..........     Miss MABEL DAYMOND
Mrs Tomkins            ..........    Miss R. VERNON PAGET

     Messrs Buchanan and Marlow’s comedy, judging by the audiences which have assembled at the Kilburn Theatre since Monday, has not proved particularly attractive to Kilburnites; but the fact of comparatively small audiences here cannot be accepted as a reflection against the play or the acting. Perhaps many people in the neighbourhood have seen the piece elsewhere, or they may be waiting for some of the other decided attractions which the new lessees of the house, Messrs Morell, Mouillot, and Watts announce amongst their future bookings. The piece is well acted by Mr Herbert Sleath’s company. The comedy is produced by Mr William Holles, and Mr Lilford Arthur, the acting-manager at the theatre, has, as usual, made all necessary arrangements for the due observance of detail. Mr Harry Wright as Thomas Tomkins, the shopwalker, soon establishes himself in the minds of those who witness the play as the central attraction in the piece, and, although, perhaps, it may be thought at times that he leans a little too much to the humorous side of the character for a man who professes to be all soul and who aspires to nobility, he gives a decidedly entertaining interpretation of the part, and towards the end of the play, when the real nobility and true kindness of the man’s nature is shown, Mr Wright receives what he thoroughly well deserves—a round of genuine applause. He also, in the course of the second act, sings a couple of songs, and generally secures an encore. Mr Wright is particularly good in the election scenes, which occur in the third act. Mr Ernest Mainwaring as the proprietor of the Bon Marché, Dorking, has not a great deal to do, but he does it very well, and imparts a good deal of spirit to the character. Mr A. Rule Pyott as Alexander McCollop gives a good representation of an over-energetic and time-serving individual who plots for the advancement of Tomkins and his own self-aggrandisement. Mr Frank Stribley is quiet and easy as the Earl of Doverdale, and Mr Julius Royston is also satisfactory as his nephew Captain Dudley. Miss Hilda Thorpe appears to advantage as Lady Munro, the Earl’s sister, and his daughters, lady Evelyn and Lady Mabel, are well represented by Miss Phyllis Leslie and Miss Lilian Watson respectively. Miss Leslie is specially entitled to praise for the care with which she sustains the character allotted to her, and Miss Watson brings an enviable amount of natural vivacity to bear upon her representation of the younger sister. Miss Mabel Daymond is quiet and effective as Dorothy Hubbard, and Miss R. Vernon Paget is amusing as Mrs Tomkins.



The Star (Christchurch, New Zealand) (22 November, 1898 -p.1)



. . .

     The woman playwriter is a new development, and it would be hard to say whether her success has been the more surprising to herself or to man. It used to be said that two things were totally beyond a woman. One was to hold her tongue, the other was to write a play. The latter she has done, and there are many, the writer among the number, who are sanguine enough to believe that she is learning “to hold her tongue” also. Chief among successful lady dramatists is an American lady, Miss Morton, who has written about a dozen plays, one of which won the £1000 prize offered not long ago by the “New York Herald.” Most of the women whose plays have found favour with the British public are, curiously enough, of American birth. Thus Mrs Craigie, whose comedy “The Ambassador,” is now running in London, is a native of Boston. Mrs Ryley, the author of “Jedbury Junior,” was a New York operatic singer. Englishwomen, however, have won laurels in this profession also, and chief among them are Mrs Musgrave, whose “Our Flat” had a longer run than the work of any other woman, and Miss Clo Graves, who is the only woman dramatist to have had two pieces running on the London stage at the same time. These were “The Match Maker” and “A Mother of Three,” and it was only by sheer perseverance that she induced managers to consider them at all. Even members of the aristocracy have gone in for writing plays, and the Ladies Colin Campbell and Violet Greville have done so with considerable success. It is said that the notion of a lady author is so new that it is not readily grasped by theatre-goers, and an amusing occurrence took place on one occasion in consequence. It was the first night of the “Romance of the Shopwalker,” which was written by Miss Harriet Jay, sister-in-law of Robert Buchanan. At the usual call for the author, a beautiful lady in evening dress appeared before the footlights, and acknowledged the thundering applause that greeted her. The lady was “Charles Marlowe”—her nom-de-plume which was set on the programme. But the cry for the author still went up, and Miss Jay presented herself again. Whereupon some of the galleryites grew obstreperous, and shrieked out: “Never mind her; let’s have Charlie!” The lady author once more came before the curtain, and the galleryites, seeing their mistake, gave one terrific cheer, and subsided, fully satisfied with “Charlie’s” work.



From Random Recollections by Robert Ganthony (London: Henry J. Drane, 1899 - p.109-110)

     A curious instance of what I mean was demonstrated in Weedon Grossmith’s performance in “The Romance of a Shop Walker,” when as the Shop Walker he sings a song of trashy sentiment called, I think, “After the Ball.” A nobleman’s daughter (charmingly played by his wife, Miss May Palfrey) accompanies him upon the piano. He says, “Ah, that’s really good—the words you know—real poetry,” or something to that effect, which provoked a roar of laughter at the Vaudeville, but at Ealing, when I heard it there, the audience took his remarks seriously, and agreed with him that  “After the Ball” was a fine song, and one that embodied a fine sentiment. Satire is a dangerous form of amusement unless you have a special audience. ...



From From Studio To Stage: Reminiscences of Weedon Grossmith Written by Himself (London: John Lane, 1913 - p. 223-224)

     I have read as many as two hundred farces or comedies in a year and not found one winner amongst them. At the termination of the run of “Poor Mr. Potton,” while the late Robert Buchanan was writing me a comedy called “The Romance of a Shopwalker,” and having no play to put on as a stop-gap, I had to close the theatre for several weeks, and besides the expense of the rent of the theatre, and several salaries to pay, I had the additional rent of a house in South Street, Park Lane, as well as my old house at Canonbury.
     The cast of “The Romance of a Shopwalker” included, among others, my wife (May Palfrey,) the late Miss M. A. Victor, Nina Boucicault, the late Sidney Brough, and David James, Jr., and Miss Annie Hill.
     The play made no money, so after a couple of months I “put up the shutters” and again said, “Next, please.”



Next: The Wanderer from Venus (1896)

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