Aubrey Boucicault’s mother is Agnes Robertson. He was born in England 26 years ago. His first appearance on the stage as a professional was in St. Louis with Kate Claxton nine years ago, when he played the part of the cripple, Pierre, in “The Two Orphans.” Soon afterward he and his mother appeared in Bartley Campbell’s play, “My Geraldine,” with Duncan B. Harrison. Young Boucicault played the role originally played by W. J. Scanlan.
After this engagement Mr. Boucicault went to London, where he appeared with the comedian, J. L. Toole in a play by Herman Merivale entitled “The Don,” which was produced in this country by Harry Lee. In this he scored his first great success, and though he appeared on the stage but 20 minutes it was said that he shared the honors with Mr. Toole. He was then engaged by Charles Wyndham of the Criterion theater to play the leading part in “Betsy,” by F. C. Burnand, editor of Punch, which was called “Baby” in this country. With Wyndham Mr. Boucicault played the leading parts in Bronson Howard’s “Truth,” Allery’s “Pink Dominos,” “Fourteen Days,” which Nat Goodwin recently produced here as “A Gay Deceiver,” and the other plays of the Criterion’s repertory.
In April, 1891, Mr. Boucicault came to this country to produce a new play written by Robert Buchanan and himself, in which he desired to bring his mother before the American public again. But owing to lack of dates, a backer and other necessary preliminaries, the play was never produced. Since then he has been with Roland Reed, Stuart Robson, Camillo d’Arvllle, Rose Coghlan and other stars. Now he is a star himself in a modest way.
According to the article about Aubrey Boucicault in the Logansport Pharos, the play, which was never produced, was intended as a star vehicle for his mother. This, combined with its Irish setting and the odd circumstances surrounding its publication, have suggested that Buchanan’s novel, Lady Kilpatrick, is an adaptation of The Squireen. The series of letters to Andrew Chatto concerning Lady Kilpatrick do indicate that the original version of the novel, serialised in The English Illustrated Magazine in 1893, was not ‘written’ by Buchanan himself, but was a novelisation of one of his plays, a task which he sometimes assigned to others. This is all speculation of course, however there were two, supposedly unofficial, adaptations of Lady Kilpatrick which appeared in Australia and New Zealand, under the title:
The Shamrock and the Thistle.
Back to the Bibliography or the Plays
4. The New Don Quixote (1895)
The New Don Quixote by Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe, was given a copyright performance at the Royalty Theatre on 19th February, 1896, after undergoing some problems with the censors. It was due to be produced at the Royalty Theatre, then under the management of the actor, Arthur Bourchier, but he left the Royalty at the end of July, 1896 and, as far as I know, the play was never given a full production. A couple of years later, items in the press refer to a proposed novelisation of The New Don Quixote but this also failed to appear.
The Stage (5 December, 1895 - p.11)
The next production Mr. Bourchier will give at the Royalty is from the pen of the perennial author-dramatist-poet, Robert Buchanan. It has been named The New Don Quixote, and is a play with a serious motive, containing, in addition to a leading part for Mr. Bourchier, a very powerful character for his talented wife, Miss Violet Vanbrugh.
Apropos of Mr. Buchanan, this gentleman is looming up very large again on the dramatic horizon, for in addition to this play for the Royalty, and Miss Brown at Terry’s, he is in active negotiation with Mr. Weedon Grossmith for a finished play of the ultra-farcical order.
The Dundee Courier (16 December, 1895 - p.3)
We are in for a pretty little quarrel between Mr Robert Buchanan and the Lord Chamberlain as the licenser of plays. In collaboration with another author, Mr Buchanan has written a four-act play called “The New Don Quixote.” The object of Mr Buchanan and his colleague appears to have been to meet Ibsen, so to speak, on his own ground and beat him. In the novelty and boldness of their treatment they are credited with having succeeded in this questionable object of ambition. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Lord Chamberlain has put his foot down. Mr Buchanan writes that he purposes to join issue with the Lord Chamberlain in the manner best fitted to secure public condemnation of that functionary’s action. This means that the play will be published, and that we shall all have the opportunity of reading it.
Edinburgh Evening News (16 December, 1895 - p.3)
MR ROBERT BUCHANAN AND THE
The Observer publishes from Mr Robert Buchanan an indignant remonstrance against the action of the Lord Chamberlain in refusing to license one of his dramas—“New Don Quixote,” a four-act play. He says: “I have no intention of resting quiescent under the imputations of the Lord Chamberlain, and I shall join issue with that functionary in the manner best fitted to justify me in the eyes of the public. Having been chosen as the scapegoat of my class, I accept the position, not altogether without satisfaction; for the time has come, I believe, when one man’s martyrdom may become the salvation of the English drama.”
The Glasgow Herald (16 December, 1895 - p.4)
MUSIC AND THE DRAMA.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)
London, Sunday Night.
. . .
Mr Robert Buchanan has to-day issued a lengthy protest against the new Examiner of Stage Plays. Mr Buchanan states “The New Don Quixote,” a four-act play, “written by myself and another author,” and accepted by Mr Bouchier for production at the Royalty Theatre, has just been returned to the manager with the intimation that it will not be licensed for representation. Mr Buchanan goes on to say that the Lord Chamberlain will take no official knowledge of authors as such, having, of course, to deal solely with theatrical managers, and that the public know his own views on the subject of censorship. He continues:—“The play in question is, I contend, pure and wholesome, though it deals boldly and seriously with some of the great issues of modern life. Its offence, I presume, consists in this, that it is neither trivial nor indecent in the ordinary sense, but that it is fundamentally and not superficially unconventional.” In accordance with custom in such cases, Mr Buchanan, it is understood, proposes to publish his play, when the public will be able to determine for themselves whether the reader of stage-plays or the author is in the right.
The Freeman’s Journal (Dublin) (16 December, 1895 - p.5)
That stormy petrel of the drama, Mr. Robert Buchanan, has a new grievance against the Lord Chamberlain. He writes an indignant letter to the papers saying—“May I call your attention to the fact that the ‘New Don Quixote’ a four act play written by myself and another author, and accepted by Mr. Bourchier for production at the Royalty Theatre, has just been returned to the manager with the intimation that it will not be licensed for representation. No reason is assigned for this high-handed measure, and the licenser of plays on being appealed to by me to state the nature of the objections refers me to a clause in the Lord Chamberlain’s circular to the effect that the Lord Chamberlain has no official knowledge of ‘authors as such!’ Thus I am not only left under the stigma of having written a play which is unfit to see the light, but I am unable to ascertain in what respect I and my fellow author have offended!” As may be expected, Mr. Robert Buchanan is not going to lie quietly under the slur cast upon him by the Lord Chamberlain. At the same time it is impossible to see what effectual protest he can make, as there is absolutely no appeal from the decision of that functionary. Judging by his letter, the Lord Chamberlain does not merely take exception to any particular passages or scenes in the play, but refuses to license it on general grounds. Mr. Buchanan can, without the licence of the Lord Chamberlain, get the play produced privately at his own expense, but such a proceeding would be costly, and as far as one can see useless.
The Leeds Mercury (16 December, 1895 - p.5)
Mr. Robert Buchanan is now going to have a tilt at the Lord Chamberlain and the licenser of plays. The “New Don Quixote,” a four-act play, written by him in collaboration with another playwright, and accepted by Mr. Bourchier for production at the Royalty Theatre, has just been returned, with the intimation that it will not be licensed for representation. As this indignity is unaccompanied by any explanation as to what are the objectionable features of the work, Mr. Buchanan is very wroth, and he plunges with characteristic precipitancy into the pains and glories of martyrdom. What he is going to do to the Lord Chamberlain, whom he conceives to have “insulted” him, he does not say, but something vague and terrible is hanging over the head of that distinguished Court official. “Having been chosen as the scapegoat of my profession,” writes Mr. Buchanan, “I shall accept the position, not altogether without satisfaction, for the time has come, I believe, when one man’s martyrdom may become the salvation of the English drama.” There is about that the defiant ring we might expect, but still it is irritatingly vague. Is Mr. Buchanan going to produce the play, and risk pains and penalties, or is he merely going to print it? He declares it to be pure and wholesome, “though it deals boldly and seriously with some of the great issues of modern life.” He assumes that its offence consists in the fact that “it is neither trivial nor indecent in the ordinary sense, but that it is fundamentally, and not superficially unconventional.”
The Gloucester Citizen (17 December, 1895 - p.3)
The refusal of the Licenser of Plays to assign any reason for declining to license Mr. Robert Buchanan’s new drama, on the plea that he has “no official knowledge of authors,” has caused some indignation in the dramatic world. The Lord Chamberlain or Mr. Redford may be influenced by the celebrated advice that in giving judgment you ought never to give your reasons; but it is at least due both to the dramatist and the theatrical manager to state the objections to a particular play. Mr. Buchanan can publish his piece, and with such an advertisement it ought to secure considerable attention.
The Sheffield Evening Telegraph and Star (17 December, 1895 - p.2)
A NEW DON QUIXOTE.
Mr. Robert Buchanan is a hard hitter, and we may expect some breezy passages in the campaign which the popular novelist-playwright has commenced against the Lord Chamberlain’s department. With the Lord Chamberlain lies the nominal duty of licensing plays, with a right of vetoing those which he may consider likely to be subversive of the public morals. The Lord Chamberlain, an estimable nobleman, who owes his position partly to his attachment to a political Party and partly to the favour in which he is held in Court, finds it difficult to combine the labour of drawing up lists of precedence at Court and adjudicating upon the merits of the productions of our great playwrights, and he deems it prudent to relegate the criticism of the plays to a subordinate. The gentleman who at present hold the important position of Licenser of Plays, Mr. Redford, has the advantage, so far as regards criticism against himself, of being unknown. He was, we believe, previous to his appointment as censor of the English stage, engaged in a bank or mercantile house in London, and the reasons which led to his selection for the post he now occupies have never been disclosed to an inquisitive public. He may, of course, have been an ardent student of the stage, and may have acquired a peculiar capacity for estimating the worth and morality of the productions which playwrights seek to give the public, but he successfully hid his light under a bushel, and, until his appointment of Licenser of Plays was notified, no one outside that small circle which enjoyed the privilege of Mr. Redford’s personal acquaintance had any notion that Mr. Redford was in existence. In the exercise of his jurisdiction, Mr. Redford has placed an embargo upon a play, “A New Don Quixote,” written by Mr. Robert Buchanan, and accepted by Mr. Bourchier, for production at the Royalty Theatre. Mr. Redford has not been gracious enough to assign any reason for his action, so that the author may, should he choose, expunge the features which, in his infinite wisdom, the Licenser of Plays deems objectionable. The play has simply been returned to the author, with the intimation that the necessary license is withheld. Mr. Bourchier’s plans are put out of joint, and Mr. Buchanan is left with the result of several months’ work upon his hands. This is an indignity which it is not unnatural both author and theatrical manager should resent. Mr. Buchanan is one of the most powerful playwrights of to-day, and if he does not always bow the knee to the goddess of conventionality, he is the last man in the world to be suspected of writing a play inherently immoral and calculated to degrade the public taste, while it can hardly be conceived that Mr. Bourchier, a highly successful theatrical manager, would imperil his reputation by the production of a play likely to lower the estimation of the stage. The odd thing is that Mr. Buchanan, while prohibited by Mr. Redford’s fiat from letting the public pronounce judgment upon his work in its original form, is under no restriction from publishing it in another way. There is no censorship of books prior to publication, and if Mr. Buchanan’s play in this form was judged worthy rather than many of the novels which are poured out of the press as a fit subject for prosecution it must be in striking contrast to the author’s previous works. If the play be published, as Mr. Buchanan threatens, and, we hope, intends, and it should be then condemned, Mr. Redford would certainly be justified, but in the event of the publication being unheeded by the authorities there will be established the anomaly that the play which by the Licenser’s dictum is to be strangled stillborn may be read at any fireside in the country. The publication of the play will be awaited in literary circles with consuming interest, and, unless it be found extremely gross, fuel will be added to the agitation for the abolition of the Lord Chamberlain’s veto. Mr. Buchanan is no faint-heart, and he may be trusted to press the matter, even though he knows that he is assuming the role of a “new Don Quixote” in tilting at a windmill in the shape of an established official with a very comfortable berth.
Glasgow Evening News (17 December, 1895 - p.4)
A PLAYWRIGHT’S PROTEST.
So the hour has come, and the man, and the blow is to be struck against a tyrannous, antiquated, and moth-eaten survival of superstitious and Puritanical slavery. Let us take off our hats and huzza. Our enthusiasm should be all the greater because the intrepid individual who is to pluck the beard of tradition and tweak despotism by the nose is a compatriot and an old Glaswegian to boot—none other than Mr Robert Buchanan. Once more is the Scot in the deadly breach, and if the office of Licenser of Plays is henceforth and for ever made effete or nugatory, the credit will be due to the porridge and kale that made possible such pluck as our poet is about to show. Mr Buchanan—to begin at the beginning—has written a play in collaboration with a friend. It is a four-act play; the name of it is “The New Don Quixote,” and it has already been accepted by Mr Bourchier for production in a London theatre. What the motif of the play is we have no definite information upon as yet, but there is every reason to believe that it is what the cultured call erotic and the vulgar call “rorty.” “It deals,” to quote Mr Buchanan’s own words, “boldly and seriously with some of the great issues of modern life,” and “while neither trivial nor indecent in the ordinary sense, it is fundamentally and not superficially unconventional.” From this guarded explanation we are free to assume that “The New Don Quixote” is a Fellow Who Did, a regular Hill-Topper with the Yellow Aster and a bar sinister blazoned for emblems on his shield. Possibly he took Dulcinea with him on his knight-errant adventurings, and left Sancho Panza at home; at all events, that is the sort of thing a modern Cervantes under Bodley-Head influences would be sure to do, and there would be three thrills and one shock to every act. But, alack-a-day! the bloated and tyrannous emissary of a bigoted grandmotherly Government won’t license the masterpiece for the stage. It is hardly necessary to say that Mr Buchanan, the irreconcilable, will not tamely submit to such a ban upon his work. He faces the situation with the stern, bitter smile of the man who says “I knew it,” and intimates that he is satisfied to become the martyr for the salvation of the English drama. We might have preferred a more definite indication of what he means, but no doubt it’s all right. It is perhaps possible that he will the play in spite of the censor. We can imagine him making up a scratch company of earnest theatrical amateurs of the problem play order, and going round Britain with a fit-up, barnstorming in the rural districts, and setting up one-night stands in country towns where the police are not numerous. A crusade like this, at once educative and protestant, could hardly fail to have the support of the stage generally, and the “tommyrotic” school of new writers would gladly join in. It would be too absurd for the Lord Chamberlain to attempt to quell the insurrection by military, and it would probably be found after a while that nobody was any the worse for the performance of “The New Don Quixote,” however little the better they might b e. And when we remember some of the theatrical productions the licenser has licensed of late years, we don’t feel that we would have any poignant regret if the Buchanan revolt brought about his abolition as a State functionary.
The Sporting Life (18 December, 1895 - p.6)
Mr. Redford, the present “Examiner of Plays,” is on his trial—in the Court of Criticism and (to quote from Mr. William Mackay’s brilliant “popular Idol”) the Court of Common Sense. So far, we only know one side of the question, and Mr. Robert Buchanan puts it as follows:—“May I call your attention to the fact that ‘The New Don Quixote,’ a four-act play written by myself and another author, and accepted by Mr. Bourchier for production at the Royalty Theatre, has just been returned to the manager, with the intimation that it will not be licensed for representation. No reason is assigned for this high-handed measure, and the Licenser of Plays on being appealed to by me to state the nature of his objections, refers me to a clause in the Lord Chamberlain’s circular to the effect that the Lord Chamberlain has no official knowledge of ‘authors as such!’ Thus I am not only under the stigma of having written a play which is unfit to see the light, but I am unable to ascertain in what respect I and my fellow-author have offended! My opinions on the subject of the Censorship are well known, and need not be recapitulated here. I know the tyranny under which the English drama struggles to exist, and I know also how indifferent the English public is to all questions which involve the independence of art and artists; but I really did not know that the Lord Chamberlain possessed the power to suppress a play and insult an author without assigning any definite reason. The play in question is, I contend, pure and wholesome, though it deals boldly and seriously with some of the great issues of modern life. Its offence, I presume, consists in this—that it is neither trivial nor indecent in the ordinary sense; but that it is fundamentally, and not superficially, unconventional. I need hardly say that I have no intention of resting quiescent under the imputations of the Lord Chamberlain, and that I shall join issue with that functionary in the manner best fitted to justify me in the eyes of the public. Having been chosen as the scapegoat of my class, I shall accept the position, not altogether without satisfaction; for the time has come, I believe, when one man’s martyrdom may become the salvation of the English drama.”
My own opinion of the function which Mr. Redford fulfils is that it is an impertinent and intolerable nuisance, and ought to be swept away. The best Examiner of Plays is the British public. Mr. Buchanan pursues his present crusade against the accident who holds the office, supported by the sympathy of every friend of healthy free trade in dramatic literature. Most of us know no more of Mr. Redford than we do of the wire worker in a puppet show. So far as his performances have gone he has shown, at any rate, than an experience of banking is calculated to make an Examiner of Plays an excessively indulgent censor. Compared with “The Novel Reader,” which was vetoes years ago, there have been plays performed which reduce that production to the level of “Old Mother Hubbard” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Has Mr. Buchanan in “The New Don Quixote” gone one better—or worse—than the authors of the works which bear the Redford stamp of approval? One is reluctant to think so, and yet to what inference is one reduced by Mr. Redford’s autocratic “No?” But there is another point concerning which everybody is agreed. Who is the Lord Chamberlain, and who is his man Friday, that they should decline to give their reasons for refusing to licence “The New Don Quixote.” They are public servants, and paid out of the public purse for what they do. The gentleman in the gallery at the Victoria Theatre was forgiving on the subject of grammar—he did not expect it—but, said he, with a pardonable conviction that he was at least entitled to that for his money—“You might jine your flats.” The Lord Chamberlain and his literary and dramatic adviser might at least be courteous.
The Penny Illustrated Paper (21 December, 1895 - p.394)
Robert Buchanan v. Mr. Redford.
It was bound to come. Here is Mr. Robert Buchanan breathing fire and slaughter against the Licenser of Plays, while the Press looks on and chuckles. Everyone expected something of the kind when Mr. Redford was appointed, and the only surprise is that it has not come sooner. We had all got used to Mr. Pigott, and though dramatists occasionally grumbled and wrote letters to the Times, his position was an assured one, which the public wee inclined to back. Mr. Redford, however, stands on rather different ground, and it is an eloquent tribute to his courage that he should have chosen of all people in the world Mr. Robert Buchanan as his victim. This gentleman has, it seems, written a play which was accepted by a manager, and all was clear for production. Unfortunately, however, the Examiner did not see his way to give it the cachet of the Lord Chamberlain, assigning no reasons for his action. Mr. Buchanan is a past master in the art of controversial warfare, he has emerged victorious from scores of paper battles, and his fierce dialectics are not to be lightly regarded. I do not suppose Mr. Redford will permit himself to be dragged into the arena but clearly this is not going to prevent Mr. Buchanan smiting him hip and thigh. Certainly it is very hard lines on a man who has spent much time on a play to have its most profitable avenue of publication—the stage—stopped to him. But at the same time, it is obviously in the public interest that British audiences should be protected from the gross prurience of the Paris stage, and that it should be the duty of some public man like Mr. Redford to keep our dramatic food as wholesome as possible in these days of insidious plays on “women with a past.”
The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (21 December, 1895 - p.11)
MR. ROBERT BUCHANAN is very angry because the Lord Chamberlain has refused him a licence for a new drama of his called The New Don Quixote. Whether he does well to be angry we cannot tell till he prints the offending piece; neither can we yet say whether he is justified in pronouncing himself “the scapegoat” of his profession. But we should certainly be inclined to sympathise with him if he could not find out the reason for which objection is taken to his piece. Of course he made a mistake in addressing the Lord Chamberlain on the subject himself. That functionary naturally replied that he had “no official cognisance of authors as such.” The proper person to apply to in the matter is the manager, who proposes to be responsible for the production—Mr. Arthur Bourchier of the Royalty. If that gentleman puts himself in communication with Mr. Redford, the new examiner of plays, we doubt not that he will obtain full satisfaction.
As a matter of fact, there is no appeal against the decisions of the Lord Chamberlain’s department, nor do most managers wish that there should be. If there is to be any censorship of the stage it could not well be less oppressive than it is under the present régime; and if the tribunal were to be transferred to the police-courts, theatrical entrepreneurs know very well that they would only be jumping out of the frying-pan into the fire.
The Western Daily Press, Bristol (23 December, 1895 - p.3)
The mystery of the refusal of the Lord Chamberlain to license Mr Robert Buchanan’s play “The New Don Quixote” has rather been increased than otherwise by the diplomatic letter which Mr Arthur Bourchier has written explaining that the licenser, Mr Redford, has courteously pointed out the nature of the official objection to the play in question. Mr Bourchier gives no hint of what the objection is, nor does he afford a single loophole for inference as to whether he agrees with it or otherwise, though the fact of his having in the first instance accepted the play for production is strong presumptive evidence that he saw nothing objectionable in it. The issue of the new play from the press is now being looked for with increased curiosity.
The Western Daily Press, Bristol (30 December, 1895 - p.3)
Playgoers are at once disappointed and gratified by the intimation that “The New Don Quixote” has at last received the licence of the Lord Chamberlain. The dispute between Mr Robert Buchanan and the Licenser of Plays promised some pretty sport, and the present system of licensing is not so popular in some quarters, and the spectacle of a Philistine like Robert Buchanan taking up his club against it would have been relished. The date of the production of the play depends on the length of the run of “The Chill Widow,” which is still drawing good houses at the Royalty.
Pall Mall Gazette (31 December, 1895)
THE CENSOR AND MR. BUCHANAN.
A “PURE LOVE STORY.”
MR. ARTHUR BOURCHIER INTERVIEWED.
On Saturday the Reader of Plays at last withdrew his opposition to Mr. Robert Buchanan’s play, “A New Don Quixote,” which had been sent to him for licensing by Mr. Arthur Bourchier. Last night a Pall Mall reporter called upon Mr. Bourchier at the Royalty Theatre to endeavour to obtain the history of this incident, Mr. Redford’s first display of the cloven hoof of censorship. Mr. Bourchier was communicative—up to a point. He said: “Mr. Buchanan offered me the play. I liked it immensely, accepted it, and proceeded to arrange for the copyrighting of it, against the day I should want it. With two other plays, I sent this on to Mr. Redford. The other two came back licensed all right; but while they were taken this one was left. I was invited to go and see Mr. Redford, and he told me that Mr. Buchanan’s play could not be licensed in its then form. I could only plead that the situation in it was identical with that in certain other plays which had been licensed, but without avail.”
“What was the situation which brought the vicarious blush of shame to the expert cheek of Mr. Redford?”—“Ah! that I am not at liberty to tell you.”
“Then what were the situations in the other plays which were identical with it?”—“Oh, no! you don’t get me like that.”
“Come, Mr. Bourchier, you are making out that Mr. Redford is a stricter censor than his predecessors, if he cannot pass a situation which did not cause his ancestors in office to boggle?”—“I do not wish to do that exactly. Mr. Redford asked me whether there was no way of modifying the play, and the only answer I could make was that I was the manager and not the author, and that therefore it did not rest with me.
MR. BUCHANAN NEXT WROTE TO MR. REDFORD,
and the answer he got, which, I am bound to say, was perfectly justified and in order under the statute, was that the Reader of Plays does not recognize authors as such. The manager is the culprit, and so back again I went. Mr. Redford, Lord Lathom, and all of them were charming, and when I asked whether they would, supposing Mr. Buchanan consented to produce it, read another version of the same story, they readily expressed perfect willingness.”
“But how did Mr. Buchanan take that?”—“I told Mr. Buchanan that it was very necessary in the interests of—I don’t know what, but in some interest or other, that his play should be modified. I pointed out to Mr. Buchanan that it would be a great pity for the wrath of a moment to be permitted to stand in the way of the production of a play, and Mr. Buchanan does me the honour of saying that I have acted the part of mediator and peacemaker in a level-headed way, keeping him quiet on the one hand, and pacifying Mr. Redford on the other. I assured Mr. Buchanan that it was well worthy of his attention to consider whether he should not produce a new version. He did so, and after some further lengthened consideration it was licensed on Saturday last.”
“Did you consider, when you originally sent it in, that it was a play which would exercise the judgment of the Reader of Plays to any extent?”—“It never occurred to me for a moment. Why, there are religious elements in it.”
“Perhaps that was why Mr. Redford shied at it?”—“No,” rejoined Mr. Bourchier with a perfect assumption of gravity, “because he has passed ‘The Sign of the Cross’ all right, I believe. But as I was saying, it has religious elements in it, and it is a play dealing with the purest theme possible, this play of Mr. Buchanan’s. I see one of the papers says it is
CALCULATED TO TICKLE THE STALLS.
Nothing of the sort. It is a serious play. In my humble way I endeavoured to impress upon Mr. Redford that the theme was of the purest, dealing with the subject from a totally different point of view from that adopted in ‘The Second Mrs. Tanqueray,’ and so on.”
“Why, yes, the keynote of your management, I have heard, is that the time has come when the woman with a past is to be thrown overboard.”—“I don’t want the woman with a past unless you have shown to you the reason why she has that past, and in this play Mr. Buchanan shows you that. His woman is a pure woman at the commencement, and you see during the action the reasons which drove her from her purity, the man in the case being a noble, high-minded fellow, as free from cant, stage cant, or street cant, as you could wish a man to be—a really fine fellow. The theme of the play is an argument about real and ideal love, argued out between ‘the New Don Quixote’ and his friend. The things which are dissected and analyzed and bothered about in the problem plays are the minor side issues in this. I am a young manager, I know, and ought not to speak in too cocksure a vein, but I know of nobody who has ever touched these love themes with so firm and strong a hand, or driven the nails home so hard, as Mr. Buchanan in this new play. It is a fine piece of stage-work, and the questions involved have never been so cleverly handled. It settled the thing once for all without any maudlin nonsense. There is a woman, who doubtless becomes soiled as the play progresses, but there is an art in the treatment of this part of the play which still leaves it a pure love story—the man being an idealist, you understand.”
“No, I don’t quite follow how he idealized in this——”
“Mr. Bourchier,” said the call-boy; and I had to come away still hazy in my mind about that idealist.
The Liverpool Mercury (31 December, 1895 - p.5)
The licenser of plays has withdrawn his ban from Mr. Robert Buchanan’s drama “A New Don Quixote,” but it is now not likely to be seen at the Royalty till Easter. Whether Mr. Buchanan has modified the play so as to meet the scruples of Mr. Redford is not known, but it is probable that an accommodating spirit has been shown on both sides. Mr. Buchanan gains so much more by the good run of a piece which may not express in its acted form all he desires to delineate than he would gain by a quarrel with the licenser that discretion becomes the better part of valour. As the curiosity of the public will be set on edge by Mr. Redford’s interference, the little episode is certain to turn out to Mr. Buchanan’s pecuniary advantage.
The Leeds Mercury (1 January, 1896 - p.5)
The reconciliation between Mr. Robert Buchanan and the Licenser of Plays (if one may really be permitted to put the thing in that way) seems to have been brought about, our London Correspondent says, by Mr. Buchanan swallowing some of his wrath and knocking out some of the lines of his play. At first he was exceedingly angry, and threatened all sorts of vague reprisals and mortifications for those who had crossed him, from the ornamental Lord Chamberlain down to the mysterious Mr. Redford; but the soothing influence of a manager may apparently be exerted with success on the most belligerent authors, and Mr. Buchanan has calmed down with a sweet completeness most appropriate to the Christmas season. Having written a problem play, the distinguishing characteristic of which is said to have been its “purity” and “ideality,” he has condescended to modify those misunderstood qualities so as to please the fastidious taste of the censor, who presumably, in the embarrassing multiplicity of problem plays, has got a little mixed in his appreciation of the cardinal virtues. However, all is well that ends well, and Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Redford are perhaps complacently disposed to wish each other a happy new year. The new play—it is not quite clear whether it is now invested with more or less “purity” and “ideality” than before—will be produced by Mr. Arthur Bourchier at the Royalty Theatre.
The Western Daily Press, Bristol (1 January, 1896 - p.9)
It now transpires that Mr Arthur Bourchier played the part of guide, philosopher, and friend to Mr Robert Buchanan in the difficulty with the Lord Chamberlain over the licensing of “The New Don Quixote.” He actually induced that author to rewrite a scene, and only those who know Mr Buchanan can form even a faint idea of what a triumph in diplomacy that must have been. In the new play the great questions that hinge on the unhappy situation of a woman with a past are to be considered in their philosophical, social, and even their religious aspects.
The Globe (2 January, 1896 - p.6)
“The New Don Quixote,” the play by Mr. Robert Buchanan which Mr. Arthur Bourchier will by and by produce at the Royalty, would probably have been christened “A Modern Don Quixote,” had that title not been already captured for the musical farce which Mr. Arthur Roberts brought out at the Strand in September, 1893. The notion of modern Quixotes was worked out several times in eighteenth century fiction—notably in “The Spiritual Quixote,” “The Female Quixote,” and “The Amiable Quixote.” We have also had, in drama, “Don Quixote the Second”—the sub-title of Dion Boucicault’s “Fox Hunt”—and likewise a “Don Quixote Junior.” There are infinite possibilities in the idea.
The Freeman’s Journal (Dublin) (3 January, 1896 - p.6)
Mr. Robert Buchanan is evidently resolved not to silently submit to the action taken by the Censor of Plays with regard to “The New Don Quixote.” Mr. Buchanan writes—“There is no material difference whatever between the original version of my play and the version licensed last Saturday. Certain suggestions from headquarters I declined to accede to altogether. What I did was to cut down certain passages of dialogue, leaving the situations intact, and tampering in no way with the characterisation and psychology.” He adds, “I have no intention of remaining under the stigma of having written a play which required to be expurgated and Bowdlerized before it was fit for representation, and I shall take the very earliest opportunity of vindicating my character.”
The Glasgow Herald (6 January, 1896 - p.4)
Mr Robert Buchanan is now altering the finale to the second act of “The New Don Quixote.” Certain details concerning this play are now gradually being disclosed. It seems that the heroine is another New Magdalene, or, otherwise, the hero, a clergyman, weds a lady of light reputation, mainly with the Quixotic object of reforming her. His love for her increases, although she after their marriage almost despises the man. The idea is undoubtedly a powerful one, and Mr Bourchier has declared the heroine’s character is not so bad as it is painted.
It is not unlikely that a new comedy by Mr Robert Buchanan may soon be produced at the Vaudeville, where the run of “The New Boy” comes to an end next Saturday. Meanwhile the house will be closed for a few weeks until Mrs Weedon Grossmith (Miss May Palfrey) attains convalescence.
Northern Daily Mail (11 January, 1896 - p.6)
Mr Buchanan’s play “A New Don Quixote” has at last been licensed by the Reader of Plays. Mr Redford, after reading the play, asked Mr Bourchier whether there was no way of modifying it, and Mr Bourchier’s answer was that he was the manager, and not the author, and that, therefore, it did not rest with him. Mr Buchanan next wrote to Mr Redford, and the answer he got was that the Reader of Plays does not recognise authors as such, the manager being considered the culprit. Mr Bourchier had an interview with Mr Redford and Lord Lathom, who, when asked whether they would, supposing Mr Buchanan consented to write it, read another version of the same story, readily expressed their willingness to do so.
Mr Buchanan set to work and produced a new version—only altering the dialogue, and leaving the main situations untouched—and this was licensed last Saturday. Mr Bourchier has given his assurances that Mr Buchanan’s heroine is a pure woman at the commencement of the play; and we shall see during the action the reasons which drove her from her purity, the man in the case being a noble, high-minded fellow. The theme of the play is an argument about the real and ideal love, argued out between “The New Don Quixote” and his friend. The woman becomes soiled as the play progresses, but there is an art in the treatment of this part of the piece which still leaves it a pure love story—the man being an idealist. All this is somewhat bewildering; but is undoubtedly calculated to stimulate interest and curiosity about “The New Don Quixote.”
The World (New York) (12 January, 1896 - p.37)
Some trouble was experienced in getting a license for the play, “The New Don Quixote,” which Robert Buchanan has written for Mr. Bourchier at the Royalty theater. This has now been satisfactorily arranged, and the comedy will be produced before Easter.
The Dundee Courier (3 February, 1896 - p.3)
At several theatres changes in programme are impending. Mr Robert Buchanan’s play, “The New Don Quixote,” has gone into rehearsal at the Royalty, and in view of its early production the author has written an open letter to the licenser of plays criticising the interference which the piece originally met with from that official. “The Professor’s Love Story,” in which Mr Willard has made good his place in the front rank of English actors, has nearly reached the 250th performance, but is expected to run till Easter.
The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (8 February, 1896 - p.11)
NOT content with having defeated the Censor’s proposed prohibition of The New Don Quixote, its author, who dearly loves a fight, is about publishing an “open” letter on the subject. That letter will probably be the reverse of complimentary to the Examiner of Plays, who, however, will go on drawing his comfortable emoluments just as though the indignant epistle had never been penned.
St James’s Gazette (14 February, 1896 - p.12)
At the Royalty “The Chili Widow,” although approaching its 200th representation, still shows plenty of vitality, and Mr. Arthur Bourchier consequently has been under no necessity to begin preparations for the production of a successor. In any case, this, it would appear, will not be “The New Don Quixote,” by Mr. Robert Buchanan and “Charles Marlowe,” as has been too hastily assumed. Mr. Bourchier has, in point of fact, several pieces on hand to which preference will be given. There is, for instance, his own adaptation of the German farce, “Der Rabenvater,” now nearly completed. He has, moreover, been fortunate enough to secure a powerful play from Mr. Herman Merivale, whose health, we are glad to say, has so much improved of late as to enable him to resume work. Mr. Bourchier further possesses a four-act drama by Mrs. Ramsey and Mr. de Cordova, whose little one-act play, “Monsieur de Paris,” he will, by the by, probably produce at Easter.
The Era (22 February, 1896 - p.12)
A COPYRIGHT performance of The New Don Quixote, a play in four acts, by Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe, took place at the Royalty Theatre on Wednesday afternoon. The various acts were described as follows:—Act one—In which Don Quixote avows himself knight errant, and goes forth seeking adventures. Act two—In which Don Quixote tilts with windmills and rescues his fair lady from a dragon’s cave. Act three—In which Don Quixote and the fair lady go through an old-fashioned ceremony. Act four—In which Don Quixote breaks his lance, and wins a last victory without it.
The Bookman (March, 1896 - p.24-25)
PLAY WRITERS AND PLAY CENSORS.
. . .
Quite recently a play by Robert Buchanan, entitled A New Don Quixote, incurred the displeasure of Lord Lathom, the present Lord Chamberlain. The play was announced for production at the London Royalty Theatre, of which Arthur Bourchier is manager. The theme of the play is an argument about the real and ideal love discussed between the new Don Quixote and his friend. The woman becomes soiled as the play progresses, but the author declares that his treatment of this part of the piece is such that the most prudish person could not object to it. But Mr. Redford, who reads the plays for the Lord Chamberlain, told Mr. Bourchier that the play must be altered; to which Mr. Bourchier answered that he was the manager and not the author, and that, therefore, the matter did not rest with him. Mr. Buchanan then wrote to Mr. Redford, who sent back the surprising reply that the Reader of Plays does not recognise authors as such, the manager being considered the culprit. Mr. Bourchier then had an interview with Mr. Redford and Lord Lathom, who, when asked whether they would, supposing Mr. Buchanan consented to write it, read another version of the same story, condescended to do so. Mr. Buchanan set to work and wrote a new version, only altering the dialogue and leaving the main situation untouched, and this was licensed a few weeks ago.
The Globe (30 April, 1896 - p.6)
In the same issue of “The Theatre” Mr. Robert Buchanan discusses “The Ethics of Play-Licensing.” He fulminates not so much against the official censor, as against the condition of things of which he considers him the outcome. Mr. Buchanan describes for us the situation in his “New Don Quixote,” which (he says) caused the censor to refuse, in the first place, his approval of the piece. “A man marries a woman, and discovering, when they are alone together on the wedding night, that she does not love him, informs her that they must live apart, and be ‘husband and wife only in name,’ until such time as she cares for him as a wife should care for her husband. He goes to his room, she retires to hers, and the curtain falls.” The likeness which this situation bears to one in the “Maître de Forges” “The Ironmaster”) will be obvious to every playgoer.
“The New Don Quixote,” it further appears, will not now be done at the Royalty. Mr. Bourchier wished to delay its production till the late autumn, but Mr. Buchanan and his collaborator preferred to withdraw their piece and accept a “forfeit.” “Mr. Bourchier,” says the former, “acted in the handsomest possible manner,” even to the extent of giving, free of charge, a copyright performance of the play.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle (26 July, 1896 - p.22)
Arthur Bourchier, who is one of the impending English stars, will have a new play by Robert Buchanan, called “A New Don Quixote.” The heroine seems, from the outline of the plot, to acquire her past as the piece progresses and in full view of the audience.
The Standard (1 August, 1896 - p.3)