[From The Era (8 April, 1905).]
A comic opera in two acts, book by Robert Buchanan and ‘Charles Marlowe’, music by Florian Pascal. Like The New Don Quixote the only evidence of this ever being produced is a copyright performance at Ladbroke Hall, London on 6th April, 1905. However, the libretto was published (London: Joseph Williams, Ltd., 1908.), which probably explains why the following extracts were included in Writers, readers, and reputations: literary life in Britain, 1870-1918 by Philip J. Waller (Oxford University Press, 2006, pp. 857-858):
“Topsy-turviness remained a comic standby. Punch in 1898 gave its ‘vision of the future’ in the form of a letter to the editor of the ‘Daily Telephone’, on the theme of ‘Should Husbands Work?’ Then there was The Maiden Queen, a two- act comic opera, storyline by Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe, music by Florian Pascal, which delighted audiences in 1908. Again set in the future, c. 1970-80, women (‘the stronger sex’) hold all offices of Church and State, chorused by the Amazons (‘the flower of the Army’); men are subordinate and voteless, kept cloistered until ripe to be married off. Naturally, Lady Rosalind Millstone, ‘the democratic Home Secretary’, is nicknamed the Grand Young Woman; and when the Revd Annabel Lee, excited at being made Bishop of Putney, exclaims, ‘I shall faint!’, she is told, ‘Courage! Bear it like a woman!’ The education of Prince Edgar—in direct succession to the throne, though likely to be passed over on account of being male—provides occasion to satirize political correctness. Newnham is now a single-sex men’s college, where the hapless Professor Dingo is cross-examined by Lady Bustleborough, the Lady Chancellor, about the Prince’s syllabus:
LADY CHANCELLOR. You have taught him the duties of his sex and position?
DINGO. Quite so.
LADY C. Your course of study has embraced—
DINGO. French and the piano. Calisthenics and the Fashion Plates; the Moral Philosophy of Man as an inferior biped; Modesty and Deportment . . .
LADY C. Very good. You allow him to read no carnal books?
LADY C. No pagan authors, such as Thackeray, the arch-enemy of our sex.
DINGO. Certainly not. Even Kipling is forbidden, on the ground that his works describe the achievements of Man. He is thoroughly grounded, however, in the masterpieces of the female novelists of the last century—more particularly Ouida—
MISTRESS [of Newnham]. Ouida! Good heavens!
DINGO. Pardon me, the study of the works of Ouida has this effect, it shows the wickedness of the male sex in all its ghastly enormity. From this point of view Ouida is strictly moral—and, moreover, Ouida, if tradition is to be trusted, was a female!
The Lady Chancellor then catechizes Lord Eustace, one of the Prince’s fellow undergraduates:
LADY C. What is Man’s most fitting place?
LORD EUSTACE. [after a look at DINGO, who winks]. The Home!
LADY C. What must he chiefly avoid to fulfil his functions?
LORD E. All public excitement, all enquiry into political questions, which are beyond his intellect—
LADY C. And what, above all, must he reverence?
LORD E. The Perfect Woman, as embodied in those who legislate for his security.
The Maiden Queen ends with Prince Edgar becoming King and true love reigning.”
The Maiden Queen is not mentioned in the Jay biography and due to the appearance of the Rev. Annabel Lee, I first assumed it was written around the time of the publication of Buchanan’s novel of that name, in March, 1898. However, I then came across this letter in The Era which as well as mentioning The Maiden Queen also makes a passing reference to Good Old Times (aka When Knights were Bold):
The Era (23 May, 1896)
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ERA.
Sir,—We observe that a farcical comedy called Josiah’s Dream was produced on Thursday evening at the Strand Theatre. Curiously enough, it bears a strong resemblance in subject to two works in which we have collaborated, and which have been completed for a considerable time. The prophetic vision of the Coming Woman, as she is to be a hundred years hence, is to be found in an opera, The Maiden Queen, while the structure of the farcical comedy— involving, as it does, two acts of contemporary life, and one act which takes place in a remote period—closely resembles the structure of a comedy which we wrote more than a year ago. We do not suggest for a moment that the author of Josiah’s Dream has plagiarised our ideas, but certainly the long arm of coincidence has been at work, and as both our pieces are set down for early production we think it desirable to make this explanation, lest in the fulness of time we ourselves should be accused of adopting any suggestions from Josiah’s Dream.
Yours truly, ROBERT BUCHANAN and CHARLES MARLOWE.
35, Gerrard-street, Shaftesbury-avenue, W.,
May 22d, 1896.
And then I found an even earlier item, in The Echo of 11th November, 1890, which stated that:
“Mr. Robert Buchanan is writing, in collaboration with Mr. Walter Slaughter, a new comic opera, bearing the curious title, The Rev. Miss Amabel Lee.”
Given the nature of the novel, The Rev. Annabel Lee (whether ‘Amabel’ is a misprint or the original version, I have no idea), I doubt whether it began life as a comic opera, so this could have been an early attempt at what eventually became The Maiden Queen.
Back to the Bibliography or the Plays
7. The Diamond Necklace (1900) (a.k.a. The Queen’s Necklace)
This seems to have begun life as a Buchanan/Marlowe collaboration, then segued into A Royal Necklace by Pierre and Claude Berton, which was produced at the Imperial Theatre, London on April 22nd. 1901.
The Era (10 June, 1899 - p.12)
MRS LANGTRY will make her reappearance on the stage in a version by Messrs Robert Buchanan and “Charles Marlowe” of Dumas’s Collier de la Reine. The version is founded on historical documents and on the famous trial for conspiracy already familiarised to English readers by the brilliant essays of Carlyle. Mrs Langtry will produce the play as soon as possible in London, and will afterwards tour with it in America and the Colonies, creating the leading female rôle of Marie Antoinette. Another piece by the same authors, also to be produced shortly, is the comedy founded by special arrangement with Sarah Grand, on her famous story, “The Heavenly Twins.”
Daily Mail (10 June, 1899 - p.3)
A little confusion crept into our paragraph of Wednesday last in reference to Mr. Sydney Grundy’s play for Mrs. Langtry, when she once again becomes manageress of a theatre. Mr. Grundy is writing Mrs. Langtry a play, but it is an original modern play, with a part different from any other essayed hitherto by this lady. “Le Collier de la Reine” will form the subject of a drama to be produced by her, but it is from the pen of Mr. Robert Buchanan and Mr. Charles Marlowe. Mr. Buchanan writes us that it is not an adaptation of Dumas’ novel on the same subject, but is founded on historical documents. “As you are of course aware,” adds Mr. Buchanan, “the Cagliostro episode, with which we chiefly deal, has been traversed brilliantly by Carlyle.”
The Glasgow Herald (12 June, 1899 - p.13)
Mr Robert Buchanan, I have the best authority to state, will be the author of the new piece with which Mrs Langtry will resume management. Mr Grundy is also, it is understood, writing a play for the popular society actress. Mr Buchanan’s play will be an adaptation of Dumas’s “Collier de la Reine,” which, if I mistake not, has already been witnessed on the London stage under the title of “The Diamond Necklace.” Mrs Langtry will create the character of Queen Marie Antoinette, and after a London season in the autumn she hopes to take the play to the United States, and perhaps also to Australia.
The Graphic (17 June, 1899 - p.9)
The next drama of old Court life in France will present Mrs. Langtry, who has so long been absent from the London stage, in the character of Marie Antoinette. The period of the play—which is the work of Mr. Robert Buchanan and the lady novelist who prefers to be known to the world under the pseudonym of “Charles Marlowe”—is not the dismal time of the Terror, but the earlier days of the famous procés of the Diamond Necklace, familiar to readers of Carlyle and Dumas.
Daily Mail (5 July, 1899)
GOSSIP OF THE
MR. ROBERT BUCHANAN’S PLAY
FOR MRS. LANGTRY.
As Mr. Robert Buchanan told us in his letter to the “Daily Mail,” he and “Mr. Charles Marlowe” have gone rather to Carlyle than to Dumas for their material for the four-act play which they are writing for Mrs. Langtry, whose tenancy of the Haymarket (where she will first present Mr. Grundy’s new piece) is now definitely settled on the lines announced here. “The Queen’s Necklace” is of the time of Marie Antoinette. The action of the play takes place, in act the first, at the Royal Palace of Louis; in the second, at the house of Cagliostro; in the third, at a great ball given by the King; in the fourth, at Versailles. The second act will show us a curious optical delusion, and the fourth a dénouement which is claimed to be entirely new.
In the second act we are shown the inception of the Cagliostro plot, which is to induce Cardinal De Rohan—who is in love with the Queen—to purchase the necklace for her and so compromise her in the eyes of her husband. But the fact is that her double, Gai D’Oliva, a woman of no moral importance, is to be substituted for her, and so striking is the likeness that even De Rohan is deceived. In the third act Gai D’Oliva is wearing the necklace at the ball, and is pointed out to the King as his wife. In the fourth act the King taxes Marie Antoinette with her conduct, and then the plot of Cagliostro and Provence against her is unravelled. The dramatists support the view that the Queen, though indiscreet, had always repelled the advances of the Cardinal.
The authors leave Dumas chiefly in the character of Cagliostro. Through Dumas—in “Dr. Balsanio” and in “Le Collier de la Reine”—he is represented as a real magician. Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Marlowe endow him with the power of hypnotism, and, while preserving the weird element, make the sinister figure plausible. Variation, too, is made in the character of the Countess de la Motte.
The Stage (6 July, 1899 - p.11)
Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe are at work on a new play for Mrs. Langtry—of the Marie Antoinette period.
The Era (8 July, 1899 - p.12)
DUMAS is still in demand, and, besides the Monte Cristo drama, by Mr Henry Hamilton and the new piece by Mr Aubrey Boucicault, we are to have one by Mr Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe, based on the character and life of Cagliostro, and the celebrated “Queen’s Necklace”—an incident which will be the title of the play. Dumas and Carlyle are both laid under contribution for the plot of this piece, which is designed for Mrs Langtry.
The Liverpool Mercury (17 July, 1899 - p.8)
Mr. Robert Buchanan and Miss Harriet Jay are understood to be engaged upon a play which is to be produced by Mrs. Langtry at the Haymarket. It is upon the subject of the famous necklace mystery which did so much injury to the reputation of Marie Antoinette. There is a novel on the same subject by Alexander Dumas. Mrs. Langtry’s season will begin on August 31, and she will be supported by Mr. Charles Hawtrey, Mr. George Grossmith, jun., and Miss Lily Hanbury. The season will be necessarily brief, as the regular Haymarket company reappear in town on October 2 in Mr. Sydney Grundy’s promised adaptation of “La Tulipe Noire” of Alexander Dumas.
The Era (21 April, 1900 - p.12)
MRS LANGTRY’S American season has been a serious financial loss. She was obliged to break several contracts, as the authorities in several cities prohibited her from performing The Degenerates. “The Americans,” she says, “are incredibly capricious. They formerly treated me as a deity, and now they cut me to the quick. My error was in believing the English newspaper talk of America’s pro-British sentiments. I began by reciting ‘The Absent-Minded Beggar.’ That was my undoing! I was snubbed merely for being an Englishwoman.” Mrs Langtry will, when she returns to England, run The Degenerates round the provinces for a time, and in the autumn will produce a new costume play by Mr Robert Buchanan.
The New York Times (29 April, 1900 - p.18)
Mrs. Langtry will produce in London next Autumn Robert Buchanan’s version of “The Queen’s Necklace,” acting Marie Antoinette and her double, Oliva.
Daily Express (8 May, 1900 - p.2)
Another play of Mr. Robert Buchanan’s, founded on Dumas’ book, “The Queen’s Necklace,” is to be produced by Mrs. Langtry, on her return. In this Mrs. Langtry will double the parts of the Queen and Gai d’Oliva. The big scene occurs in the ball-room—the last act—where the brilliant courtesan appears in the Queen’s necklace.
The Stage (10 May, 1900 - p.14)
The report continuously published that Mrs. Langtry is to produce a new play by Robert Buchanan founded on the story of the Queen’s necklace in the coming autumn is incorrect. As I have before stated in these columns, Mrs. Langtry’s plans are well defined. A tour has been booked for her, commencing in September, which will last until Christmas. Then, if arrangements can be completed for a theatre, the new play in question probably will be given its first production, but I am authorised by Mrs. Langtry’s manager, Mr. Edward Michael, to say that beyond the fact that the autumn tour is inked in, no positive arrangements of any sort have been made for the future.
The Stage (9 August, 1900 - p.11)
Mrs. Langtry has “copyrighted” at the Library of Congress, in Washington, U.S.A., her new play, The Diamond Necklace, written by Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe.
The Era (18 August, 1900 - p.10)
“THE DIAMOND NECKLACE,” by Mr Robert Buchanan and “Charles Marlowe,” of which we have heard so much, was copyrighted by Mrs Langtry ere she left America at the Library of Congress, Washington. This, we understand, is the new piece Mrs Langtry intends producing in London at the end of her tour.
From Dramatic Compositions Copyrighted in the United States 1870 to 1916 (Library of Congress Copyright Office)
Diamond (The) necklace:
—original romantic drama in 4 acts, by Robert Buchanan and Chas. Marlowe [pseud. of Harriett Jay] Typewritten.
© Lillie De Bathe, London; 1900 A:11044. Mar. 2; 2c. May 4. 10768.
The Era (25 August, 1900 - p.10)
MRS LANGTRY, when she brings out Mr Robert Buchanan’s play, The Queen’s Necklace, in the country, will play a dual rôle, and she has just been to Paris to arrange with M. Pierre Berton to produce the piece for her.
The Era (22 September, 1900 - p.11)
Mr Malyon is now on tour with The Degenerates, which he is stage-managing for Mrs Langtry, and he will also help that lady with the production of Mr Robert Buchanan’s new play, The Necklace of Pearls, when that piece is done in London. Besides being an actor and stage-manager, Mr Malyon is an author, and has produced several plays and sketches, the most notable being The Honourable John (written in collaboration with Mr Fred Mouillot), A Mere Question of Time, The Lady Burglar, and The Order of the Bath (with Mr H. H. Morell), which has been highly successful in London (at the Palace), America, Hamburg, and Paris. Apart from this Mr Malyon, as we know, has lent many a helping hand “in touches” to other works, being a ready writer as well as a ready stage-manager, and a very agreeable man in and out of business.
The Stage (11 October, 1900 - p.13)
Mr. Edward Michael, business manager for Mrs. Langtry, tells me that that lady has secured the Imperial, Westminster, for a long term. She will alter and redecorate it at an expense of between £4,000 and £5,000, and will open there in the spring with A Queen’s Heart, the new play by MM. Pierre and Claude Berton which she acquired during her recent visit to Paris. The Imperial during the last few years has not competed very successfully with the other West End houses, but there is no reason why, under an able and generous management, its popularity should not return with added force.
A play which Mrs. Langtry may present during her tenancy of the Imperial is Robert Buchanan’s The Queen’s Necklace.
Daily Express (23 October, 1900 - p.2)
ON AND OFF THE STAGE.
MRS. LANGTRY IN FARCICAL COMEDY.
Mrs. Langtry does not mean to weary us with serious drama all the year round, and so has decided during the summer months to give us farcical comedy at the Imperial Theatre, Westminster. This is capital. With the thermometer at eighty something one can’t follow the woman with a past through all her Hampton Court maze. One merely wants iced drinks and a laugh. Mrs. Langtry has shown us she possesses a very genuine vein of humour. Let us hope to see her in some very amusing dramatic work.
Meanwhile, it looks as though she would play her first serious drama in the Law Courts. It will be remembered that Mr. Robert Buchanan wrote her a Marie Antoinette play. This Mrs. Langtry bought outright, for which she paid Mr. Buchanan a sum down. She then, holding this to be her absolute property, commissioned M. Paul Berton, the French dramatist, to write her another on this very subject, which she intends to open with at Westminster. Mr. Buchanan contends that he has not been fairly treated, and some litigation seems probable. Will matters be arranged? We shall see.
The subject acquires a very pathetic interest now that Mr. Buchanan is stricken with paralysis. He has done excellent work in adaptation, notably “Sophia” (from Fielding’s “Tom Jones”), though he is less happy in original dramatic work. He has always been an ardent controversialist, throwing himself with passionate insistence into every question of the hour. To his great honour he always fought for what he believed to be the weaker side. As a hard-hitter he probably has no equal. May he long be spared to renew his battles and to add his share to the colour and interest of life. We should be the poorer without him.
The New York Clipper (1 December, 1900)
OUR LONDON LETTER.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)
LONDON, Eng., Nov. 14.
. . .
Mrs. Langtry hopes to have her new theatre, the Imperial, Westminster, ready for her by May 1, and, as the work is to be pushed, this date shows that the old and very shabby house is to be very thoroughly rebuilt. Her business misunderstanding with Robert Buchanan over the “Marie Antoinette” play he wrote for her has been settled, and it has been said by her that it is a capital play, but had not enough Marie Antoinette in it to suit her. The one on the same subject which she is having written in Paris by M. Pierre and Claude Berton may therefore be looked forward to as being well furnished with Marie Antoinette from start to finish.
The Glasgow Herald (14 December, 1900 - p.7)
Mrs Langtry has secured “The Bath Comedy,” which will be produced at the New Imperial Theatre at the conclusion of the run of the new “Marie Antoinette” piece, which itself, although completed and developed by a French author, is, it seems, originally due, in conception at anyrate, to Mr Robert Buchanan. “The Bath Comedy” is an adaptation by Mr Egerton Castle, the author, and Mr Belasco, the American playwright, of a novel of the same name.
The Dundee Evening Telegraph (7 January, 1901 - p.3)
Little if any improvement has taken place in the condition of Mr Robert Buchanan. He is absolutely helpless, and quite incapable of mental effort. There is not the smallest chance he will write another line.
Mrs Langtry has taken advantage of the Christmas holidays to run over to Monte Carlo, where she has been enjoying a very short vacation. She will have to be back in the course of the present week, as she and her company intend to start a new tour at Ealing on Monday next.
Daily Express (16 April, 1901 - p.2)
A veil of mystery surrounds the authorship of “The Queen’s Double,” the Garrick version of “Le Collier de la Reine.” Both Mr. Robert Buchanan and Mr. Herman Merivale are known to have written plays on the subject. But Miss Janette Steer repudiates the former, and speaks vaguely of “a well-known writer hitherto associated with comedy.” This description might well fit Mr. Merivale, the MSS. of whose play she holds. Further, his version bore the title which is now advertised. Only, Mr. Merivale knows nothing of Miss Steer’s production! When the truth is out it will probably be found that Miss Steer herself has turned her hand to playwriting. Everyone the exponent of her (or his) genius is her maxim.
The New York Times (23 April, 1901)
MRS. LANGTRY’S THEATRE OPENED.
“A Royal Necklace” Well Received,
Though It Is Regarded as Crude.
LONDON, April 23.—Mrs. Langtry inaugurated the Imperial Theatre, London, now under her management, last evening, about an hour after the builders had hastily fled from the building, with what is regarded as a rather crude play by Pierre and Claude Berton. It is called “A Royal Necklace,” and is a story of the intrigues of Marie Antoinette.
Despite the weakness of the piece, Mrs. Langtry’s personality secured for it a favorable reception. Mrs. Langtry as the Queen and Robert Taber as Count Fersen were frequently recalled.
Responding to the final call, Mrs. Langtry briefly apologized for the incompleteness of the theatre, and said she hoped soon to make it more comfortable.
The Times (23 April, 1901 - p.7)