Dickensian Dramas: Plays from Charles Dickens: Volume 1

ISBN : 9780198787952

Jacky Bratton
480 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Mar 2017


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Dickens loved the stage-he enjoyed thousands of evenings in the theatre, and longed to write for it and to perform himself, an ambition that he eventually satisfied by touring alone with his Readings. Victorian prejudice and his need to preserve his personal image kept him from openly becoming a stage professional earlier in his career, but all his work was informed by his dramatic imagination. He found ways of circumventing these taboos by seeking closer and closer contact over the staging of his work with dramatic writers, admired actors, and trusted theatre managements. This book presents, for the first time, fully edited texts of some of the plays which these tacit collaborations produced: dramatizations of Dickens's early novels (from The Pickwick Papers to Barnaby Rudge) and, especially, his Christmas books, which appeared almost annually between 1843 and 1848. Each of these, from A Christmas Carol onwards, was staged in London's new West End theatres simultaneously with the book publication. Dickens sent proof sheets to his friends to 'dramatize' work that was increasingly already conceived for the stage, and for the acting of his friends Bob and Mary Ann Keeley. This selection of the plays created in this way, some previously unpublished, offers the first opportunity for modern scholars to consider not only an exciting body of translations to the stage made by the first generation of Dickensian adaptors, but also the influence of their work and of the performances they enabled upon the Dickens himself.


W. T. Moncrieff, Sam Weller, or the Pickwickians, New Strand Theatre, June 1837
Edward Stirling, Nicholas Nickleby, Adelphi, November 1838
Edward Stirling, Barnaby Rudge, New Strand Theatre, August 1841
Charles Webb, Old Scrooge, Sadler's Wells and New Strand Theatre, February 1844
Edward Stirling, Martin Chuzzlewit, Lyceum, July 1844
Gilbert Abbott A'Beckett and Mark Lemon, The Chimes, Adelphi, December 1844
Albert Smith, The Cricket on the Hearth, Lyceum, December 1845
Albert Smith, The Battle of Life, Lyceum Theatre, December 1846
Mark Lemon, The Haunted Man, Adelphi, December 1848

About the author: 

Graduating from St Anne's Oxford in 1969, Jacky Bratton became a member of the English Department at Bedford College London and later Head of Drama at Royal Holloway. She works on the performance cultures of 19th-century Britain, specialising in the popular, the demotic and the hidden or disregarded work of women. In this century she has been engaged with performance and other unorthodox ways of publishing research, and with the possibilities and challenges of internet research. She lives in Sussex with her partner Gilli Bush-Bailey and, of course, a cat.

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