ROBERT WILLIAMS BUCHANAN (1841 - 1901)

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ROBERT BUCHANAN TIMELINE

6. 1885 - 1887

Date

Events

Notes

 

1885

 

3 January 1885

Matt: A Novel commences serialisation in The Graphic - issues 788 to 794 (14 February).

 

5 January 1885

Lady Clare is produced at Niblo’s Garden, New York, starring Cora Tanner, with Harriett Jay reprising her role as the Hon. Cecil Brookfield.

 

6 January 1885

The review of Lady Clare in the New York Herald devoted itself entirely to Harriett Jay’s legs.

 

7 January 1885

Item in the New York Herald:
     ‘What is called a professional matinée of “Lady Clare” will be given at Niblo’s this afternoon. It has been arranged, so Manager Frohman says, for the convenience of professionals who have expressed a desire to see Miss Harriet Jay in knickerbockers.’

 

11 January 1885

Item in The New York Times;
     ‘Mr. Robert Buchanan has just finished a new piece which he calls “Fascination, or, The Way We Live Now.” The piece is in the line of comedy, and negotiations are in progress for its production in New-York during the present season.’

This seems to be the earliest mention of Buchanan and Jay’s play, Fascination. It would not reach the stage until May, 1887 in America and October, 1887 in England.

12 January 1885

A letter from Harriett Jay is printed in The World objecting to the ‘legs’ review in the New York Herald.

There is more than a little of Buchanan in the letter.

18 January 1885

‘A Talk with George Eliot’ is published in the New-York Daily Tribune.

The essay was reprinted in A Look Round Literature.

February 1885

Stormy Waters (a novelisation of the 1883 play, A Sailor and His Lass) published by John and Robert Maxwell.
Advertised in The Times 13 February, 1885.
Reviewed in the Pall Mall Gazette 24 February, 1885.

Matt: A Story of a Caravan (U.S. title: Matt: A Tale of a Caravan) published in New York by D. Appleton.
Reviewed in The New York Times 24 February 1885.
Chatto & Windus publish the English edition in March.
Reviewed in the Aberdeen Weekly Journal 30 March, 1885.

Reviews.
Stormy Waters is generally regarded as the worst of Buchanan’s novels. Christopher Murray believes that it is so bad that it can be added to the Lady Kilpatrick list of novels of dubious origin. Personally, I think Buchanan just rattled it off as quickly as possible so that he could raise some cash either to alleviate his problems with the Storm-Beaten tour or raise the money for his American trip. It should be noted that the novel was not published by Chatto & Windus.

Reviews of Matt.

1 February 1885

‘The Landlord-Shooters’ is published in the New-York Daily Tribune.

This is the article referring to Buchanan’s trip to Ireland in the autumn of 1879 and the attack on the Marquis of Sligo’s land-agent.

3 February 1885

Writes to Andrew Chatto suggesting a collaboration between “My friend, Mr Thorndyke Rice, of the North American Review” and Chatto & Windus, so that material appearing in the latter’s magazines could be simultaneously published in America. Buchanan also suggests publishing an American edition of the Collected Poemsif you have not arranged anything, why not forward stereos for use here? A publisher would pay the cost, & ten per cent on all retail sales, which we could divide.”

This is the only letter from America in the Chatto & Windus correspondence. It is from the Madison Square address and at one point Buchanan writes: “I expected to have been home long ere this”.
Jay concludes her brief account of the American trip in her biography of Buchanan with the following:
“While in New York he was offered and refused the editorship of the North American Review, with a salary which was indeed princely.”

12 February 1885

Harriett Jay attends a matinee performance of W. S. Gilbert’s Broken Hearts at the Madison Square Theatre, starring Mr. Frank Thornton.

Her attendance is noted in a review of the performance in The Daily Graphic of 13th February. Buchanan is not mentioned among the audience.

March 1885

While in Philadelphia preparing for the opening of Alone in London Buchanan visits Walt Whitman at Camden, New Jersey. The poem, ‘Socrates in Camden’ published in The New Rome (1898) is dated: “Indian Rock, Philadelphia, PA., March 1885.”

I don’t know the actual date of the meeting, but Whitman’s memory of the encounter is included in Horace Traubel’s With Walt Whitman in Camden. And Buchanan’s in his ‘Latter-Day Leaves No. 9’. Both are available in the ‘Buchanan’s Theatrical Ventures in America’ section.

12 March 1885

Item in The New York Times:
     “Mr. Robert Buchanan has succeeded in disposing of one more play in this country. This piece is called “Alone in London,” and it is to be tried on in Philadelphia some time in May next. If “Alone in London” proves successful it will be brought out in New-York at the beginning of the following season, and after that it will be sent through the general country. “Alone in London” has a material attachment in the shape of Miss Harriet Jay, who appears to be generously thrown in with the most of Mr. Buchanan’s theatrical bargains. Miss Jay is regarded by Mr. Buchanan as the most beautiful woman and the most accomplished actress in the world, and this fact indicates the degree of generosity which induces him to insist that managers who accept his plays shall also receive the further boon of having them performed by the radiant and accomplished Miss Jay.”

And so we come to Alone in London, Buchanan’s most successful play of his lifetime, although he never made much money from it. According to Harriett Jay in the brief description of their American trip in her biography of Buchanan, the play had been offered to Shook & Collier after they had rejected the unwritten A Hero In Spite Of Himself, but they declined Alone in London as well “and it was produced by Mr. Buchanan himself at the Chestnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, where it drew crowded houses. At the conclusion of its first run it was taken up by Colonel Sinn, of Brooklyn, who, besides giving very fine terms, bought all the scenery which had been specially painted for it.”
Which does not explain where Buchanan got the money to stage the play in Philadelphia. The only newspaper item I’ve found which sheds some light on the question is in an obituary of Buchanan from The Atlanta Constitution of 4th August, 1901:
Then he took to writing plays and in 1884 came to New York to sell “Alone in London.” General Lloyd Bryce was invited to hear it read. He found the author in an attic room off the Bowery, unkempt, collarless, vestless and looking like a typical anarchist as he is painted by the press. Bryce heard the play read and invested $3,000 in its production. Buchanan selected the caste and the play ran for several years, clearing over $100,000 for its proprietors and author.’
There was a connection between Bryce and Buchanan’s “friend”, Allen Thorndike Rice of The North American Review, which does add some credence to this account. Although the last two words should be omitted.

21 March 1885

Agnes (a two-act adaptation of Molière’s L’École des Femmes) is produced at the Comedy Theatre, London, as a curtain-raiser to Nemesis in order, according to The Times, “to enable Miss Adelaide Detchon, a young American actress, to make her début in London in an ingénue part.”

Reviews.

30 March 1885

Alone in London (written in collaboration with Harriett Jay) is produced at the Chestnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia. Harriett Jay plays another male role, Tom Chickweed. The play is a success and is acquired by Colonel William E. Sinn, of Brooklyn, for a two years’ tour of the United States and Canada.

Reviews.

For purposes of copyright, there is a simultaneous ‘production’ of the play at the Theatre Royal, Greenwich.

April 1885

The essay, ‘Free Thought In America’ is published in The North American Review.

Matt: A Tale of a Caravan is serialised in various American newspapers under the title, Come Ashore.

 

2 April 1885

In response to Buchanan’s essay, ‘Free Thought in America’, the Broome Republican (of Binghamton, New York) prints ‘A Caustic Criticism of Mr. Buchanan’s Methods’, which, as well as referring to Buchanan as a “bumptious and pretentious Britisher”, “absurd” and “unpopular” also reveals the reason why Buchanan’s invitation to address the Nineteenth Century Club on 23rd December, 1884, was rescinded:
Many New Yorkers were not disposed to admire Mr. Buchanan’s freedom in travelling and living with his sister-in- law, who may be an excellent woman, though she is certainly not an excellent actress. Here is a little anecdote, for instance, with a moral. Mr. Buchanan was invited, during the Winter, to speak on a literary subject before an exclusive society—most of the members and guests of which are charming gentlemen. Mr. Buchanan accepted the invitation. But the members were informed unexpectedly, that Mr. Buchanan and his sister-in-law took slight notice of social usages. They requested Mr. Buchanan, in consequence, not to appear before their society.”
The article concludes:
“Imagine this absurd person declaring pompously that we have no literature to speak of, that we are corrupt, uncultured, and, possibly, half-civilized; this person who has been laughed at and ignored since he came to our city. What a ridiculous contrast he makes with Mr. Edmund Gosse and Matthew Arnold.”

 

17 April 1885

Writes to Augustin Daly from the Gedney House hotel in New York:
     “I have asked Mr Robert Coote to call upon you this evening to ask you if you could help me in any way, by introduction or otherwise, to effect an arrangement by which I could take a new comedy of mine, Fascination, to the Standard. I want to supply Miss Harriett Jay & Mr Charles Coote, with or without complete company, on sharing terms or royalty.”

Following the production of Alone in London in Philadelphia it seems that Buchanan still intended to stay in America and provide a starring vehicle for Harriett Jay with Fascination.

23 April 1885

A letter from Buchanan is printed in the New-York Daily Tribune concerning the death of the actor, Charles Kelly. Kelly had appeared in Buchanan’s production of The Flowers of the Forest at the Globe Theatre the previous year and a scene from the play had been included in the matinée benefit for Charles Kelly at the Prince’s Theatre on 16th July, 1884.

 

26 April 1885

The poem, ‘The Voyage of Magellan’, is printed in The Boston Herald and an edited version also appears in the New-York Daily Tribune.

‘The Voyage of Magellan’ was subsequently published in The Earthquake.

May 1885

The poem, ‘The New Buddha’, is published in The North American Review.

A Marriage Of Convenience by Harriett Jay, published by F.V. White and Co.
Advertised in The Times 29 May, 1885.
Reviewed in The Morning Post 9 July, 1885.

 


Reviews.

9 May 1885

Item in The National Police Gazette:
     “Robert Buchanan and Harriett Jay will return to England soon. Mr. Buchanan may do “Fascination,” a new play, in London. If a success there he will tour it here.”

I’ve been unable to find the exact dates of the departure of Buchanan and Jay from America. In the programme for the Olympic production of Alone in London Buchanan writes that once he had sold the American rights to Col. Sinn in Philadelphia, Jay “shortly afterwards left to produce the play in England” which seems to be confirmed by the adverts in The Era about the London production, and implies that they returned home separately. In Jay’s biography she gives the reason for Buchanan’s departure as ill health.

18 May 1885

Col. Sinn’s production of Alone in London, opens at the Park Theatre, Brooklyn, for one week only, with Cora Tanner in the leading role of Annie Meadows and the rest of the cast of the Philadelphia production, minus Harriett Jay, whose role of Tom Chickweed is played by Belle Archer.

 

22 June 1885

Buchanan is now back in England. He writes to Andrew Chatto from the Westward Ho boarding house in Southend-on-Sea:
     “I have been too deep in domestic trouble to write to you before. At last, however, I can do so with an easier & lighter heart.”
He goes on to say that The City of Dream is “quite ready” and asks how the English edition of Matt fared.
A letter from Buchanan to James Kennedy in New York, dated ‘June, 1885’ expands on the ‘domestic trouble’, which concerned the health of his mother:
I write this by the sickbed; for though she was well on my arrival & very happy in our re-union, she was yesterday taken suddenly ill with pneumonia, & for twenty four hours seemed at Death’s door. She is a little better now, & my poor heart is somewhat lighter.”

 

12 July 1885

‘Literary Bohemia’ is published in the New-York Daily Tribune.

 

30 July 1885

Item in The Edinburgh Evening News:
     “Mr Robert Buchanan, who has lately returned from a successful trip to the States, is lying ill at Southend. The numerous admirers of his poems will be interested to hear that Mr Buchanan has finished another poem of considerable length, pronounced by one or two good judges who have seen it to be exceedingly powerful.”

 

8 August 1885

The Era reports that Harriett Jay has returned from America with “the manuscript of Mr Buchanan’s new melodrama, Alone in London, which was written at her suggestion, and has obtained success in the United States.” The report also gives details of the arrangement with Col. Sinn, 40 percent of the profits from the first season going to Buchanan and Jay, with a guarantee of $12,000 (£2,400). Meanwhile, Buchanan “remains very ill, having not yet recovered from the serious pulmonary attack which prostrated him during the severe winter in New York.”
The same issue of The Era contains an advert for Alone in London which states that Miss Harriett Jay “possesses the entire acting rights of this Great Drama ... and is prepared to negotiate with Responsible Managers in London and the Provinces for the production of this great Melodrama.”

The contact address for Harriett Jay in the advert is given as “care of ‘The Era’ Office.”

15 August 1885

Buchanan’s poem about Walt Whitman, ‘Socrates in Camden’, is published in The Academy. It includes a verse about Herman Melville, with this footnote:
     “Hermann Melville, author of Typee, The White Whale, &c. I sought everywhere for this Triton, who is still living somewhere in New York. No one seemed to know anything of the one great imaginative writer fit to stand shoulder to shoulder with Whitman on that continent.”

The version of ‘Socrates in Camden’ included in The New Rome (1898) omits the verse about Melville.
Some of the response to the poem in the Press is available here.
Long extracts from the poem were also printed in the New-York Daily Tribune (26/8/1885) and The Boston Daily Globe (28/8/1885).

23 August 1885

Dining with Trollope’ is published in the New-York Daily Tribune.

 

24 August 1885

Revival of Lady Clare at the Pavilion Theatre, London, with Harriett Jay in the cast.

 

31 August 1885

After the summer recess, Col. Sinn’s production of Alone in London, opens at the Park Theatre, Boston.

 

September 1885

Buchanan sends telegrams to Amy Roselle, who is on the Isle of Wight with her husband, Arthur Dacre, offering her the role of Annie Meadows in Alone in London.

 

October 1885

The Master of the Mine published by Richard Bentley and Son.
Advertised in The Times 23 October, 1885.
Reviewed in The Athenæum 31 October, 1885.

Reviews.

5 October 1885

The Morning Post reports that Alone in London will open the winter season at Mrs. Conover’s Olympic Theatre. The scenery will be painted by Messrs. Perkins and Bruce Smith, and the cast will include Amy Roselle, Harriett Jay and Messrs. P. Beck, Percy Bell, Gilbert Farquhar and Herbert Standing.

 

10 October 1885

Amy Roselle accepts the role of Annie Meadows in Alone in London at a salary of £30 per week.

Buchanan writes to The Era correcting reports that he has taken the Olympic Theatre for the production of his own plays. He explains that he is not the manager of the theatre “though I shall be to a large extent responsible for its direction, and I have no intention whatever of limiting its productions to works from my own pen.” He also objects to reports that Harriett Jay will star in the plays, supported by other artists, proposing “a company working in ensemble, like Daly’s company in America, and parts will be distributed on the French system, excellent artistes being seen from time to time in minor characters. This plan is a difficult one to carry out in a country where the ‘star’ system flourishes so persistently, but the endeavour will be made, and I hope the public will consider it an endeavour in the right direction.”

 

11 October 1885

‘Theatrical First Nights’ is published in the New-York Daily Tribune.

 

20 October 1885

There is another mention of Buchanan’s forthcoming autobiography in several provincial newspapers, including The Shields Daily Gazette:
     “It is the fashion for living authors to write their autobiographies. Mr Edmund Yates has favoured us with his ‘Reminiscences,’ and now Mr Robert Buchanan is about to take the world into his confidence about his personal history. It will be interesting to note whether Mr Buchanan says much about a little passage of arms which he had with Mr Yates, who rebuked him in an article that belongs to the old-fashioned days of literary bludgeoning. Mr Buchanan quarrelled, too, with Mr Swinburne, but has since written apologetic and amicable dedications to the bard. Few literary men of marked ability have had a more severe struggle for recognition than Mr Buchanan, and this part of the record ought to be instructive.”

 

29 October 1885

Item in The Liverpool Mercury:
     ‘On Saturday night we ought to have had at the Olympic Mr. Robert Buchanan’s romantic melodrama, written in collaboration with Miss Harriett Jay, and entitled “Alone in London.” It was postponed until to-night. But this morning it has again been postponed. Mrs. Conover has found it “impossible to realise the extraordinary mechanical effects until Monday.”’

 

30 October 1885

Item in The Edinburgh Evening News:
     ‘We hear that Mr T. Hall Caine and Mr Robert Buchanan are engaged on the dramatisation of Mr Hall Caine’s novel of last season, “The Shadow of a Crime.”’

 

November 1885

The Earthquake; or, Six Days and a Sabbath published by Chatto & Windus.
Advertised in the Pall Mall Gazette 13 Niovember, 1885.
Reviewed in The Scotsman 1 January, 1886.

Reviews.

This was the first part of the poem. In a Prefatory Note Buchanan wrote: “The present volume, containing the first three days or sections, is practically complete in itself. The second and concluding volume is ready, and will be published after a short interval.”
The second volume was never published, presumably due to poor sales of the first. It’s also fairly safe to assume that the second volume was never ‘ready’.

2 November 1885

Alone in London opens at the Olympic Theatre, London. Harriett Jay repeats her role of Tom Chickweed.

Reviews.

6 November 1885

A letter from ‘The Authors of Alone in London’ is printed in The Times complaining about the first night audience at the Olympic Theatre, alleging there was an “organized opposition” to disrupt the play.
The Standard prints a long extract from the letter and The Era prints it in full the following day.

Letters to the Press and subsequent comment, concerning Alone in London are available here.

7 November 1885

A letter from Mrs. Conover is printed in The Era objecting to reports in the Press that she had altered criticisms of Alone in London in newspaper adverts. She puts the blame on Buchanan.

 

14 November 1885

Buchanan’s reply to Mrs. Conover’s letter is printed in The Era. He states that according to his agreement with Mrs. Conover he is the “sole director for at least six months of the Olympic Theatre” and accepts all responsibility for the “slight misquotation in one of the advertisements”. He also adds:
For all the arrangements at the Olympic Theatre I am personally responsible. The play, the scenes, the music, the ‘business,’ down to the smallest detail, are the distinct invention of Miss Jay and myself. It was produced under my stage-management and personal direction.”
Buchanan adds a postscript referring to his earlier letter about the first night of Alone in London:
     ‘I am accused of finding fault with the patrons of the pit. I never did so. I have always held, in my articles, both here and in America, that London “first-nighters” are the most generous in the world. The individuals who caused the disturbance at the Olympic were not real “first-nighters” at all, but a band of mere “black-mailers.”’

 

17 November 1885

Writes to Andrew Chatto (from the Park Road, Regents Park address) asking if he could suggest another illustrator (Harry Furniss being busy) for his new book of poems, Songs of the Cities, and a frontispiece for The City of Dream. He also suggests that Chatto publish the new book on a percentage basis, “I taking all risks & recouping you if there is any loss.”

Songs of the Cities was never published. Buchanan adds some suggestions for illustrations for the poems, which include ‘Justinian’, ‘The Sphinx’ and ‘The Gnome’ which were published in Buchanan’s final book of poetry, The New Rome in 1898.

28 November 1885

The Academy announces that Hall Caine’s new novel, A Son of Hagar, has been dramatised by the author in collaboration with Buchanan.

This is probably connected to the earlier item in The Edinburgh Evening News and although no collaboration between Caine and Buchanan ever reached the stage, it would seem that they were working on something together at this time.

2 December 1885

Writes to Andrew Chatto enclosing all revisions of The City of Dream apart from the last sheet. He also asks that The Earthquake be given “special prominence this week ,,, It wants a good push-off, & if it gets it, I think it will go.”

At the performance of Alone in London Amy Roselle omits some of her lines in the play and upsets Harriett Jay.

 

3 December 1885

Amy Roselle receives a letter from Mrs. Conover’s solicitor, Mr. Martin:
     “In consequence of your conduct last night, when I understand you purposely cut out a part of one act, and thereby seriously interfered with the proper performance of the play, I am instructed by Mrs. Conover and Mr. Buchanan to enclose you banknotes for 30l., in full discharge of your salary to the 4th inst., the date on which your engagement expires, and to request that you will not again take part in the performance of Alone in London at the Olympic theatre.”
That evening, Harriett Jay takes on the role of Annie Meadows (at a salary of £10 per week) with Louise Gourlay taking over as Tom Chickweed.

These details are taken from newspaper reports of the resulting court case which took place in January, 1887. It was revealed that the theatre was in financial trouble. It was losing £200 a week and the leading actors were asked to take a pay cut. Amy Roselle refused to do this. Another reason for her dismissal was the fact that she was five month’s pregnant at this time and was having difficulties with the physical demands of the role of Annie Meadows. Another interesting item is the testimony of Alfred Burnham, who had a separate dispute with Buchanan, but reveals that Buchanan sold the rights to the play for £250.

5 December 1885

A letter from Buchanan is printed in The Era explaining the reasons for Amy Roselle’s dismissal and attacking her husband, Arthur Dacre, for spreading false rumours about the commercial failure of Alone in London.
There is also a letter from Arthur Dacre giving his side of the story and saying that he has started legal proceedings against Mrs. Conover and Buchanan.

 

7 December 1885

Item in the Evening Journal of Albany, New York:
     ‘When Robert Buchanan came to America he was the most cordially detested literary man that ever left London. When he returned he was the most cordially detested literary man that ever left New York. Personally I found Mr. Buchanan a by no means unamiable or unpleasant companion. But he possessed an exasperatingly arrogant bumptiousness and an unconcealed contempt for all men who write for a living but himself, safe to make enemies rise up around him wherever he goes. The worst trait in his character is his greed for money. He is insatiably hungry for it, and if the experience of those who dealt with him in business is credible, is about as tricky as a Twenty-fourth street horse dealer. His latest exploit is one of the most contemptible recorded against him. He has taken the newspaper criticisms of “Alone in London” and deliberately cut and garbled them so as to form the most really favorable notices of his play. One article stated that the play “Is full of clever ideas, but as a rule they are wasted.” Mr. Buchanan quotes that his play is full of clever ideas and ignores the rest. The other criticisms, none of which are at all favorable, are thus equally distorted out of their true meaning. The practice of manufacturing bricks without straw in this way is a common one here. Mr. Buchanan probably picked it up on his travels. It is painful that a man so undeniably strong in style and gifted in fancy as the author of “God and the Man” should descend to the tricks of the sideshowman; but he is not the first whom hunger for gold has dragged into the mire.’

 

12 December 1885

The Era prints a long letter from Mrs. Conover giving her side of the ‘Amy Roselle situation’. Despite her previous bad luck at the Olympic she now feels she has a possible success on her hands with Alone in London, however “at this time, when my managerial prospects are brighter, I seem to have excited the enmity of a number of more or less worthy persons, to whom I can honestly say I have never done any wrong in thought, word, or deed. When I ask for an explanation of this, I am told ‘Oh, you know they don’t like Buchanan.’ Well! if he has done anything to offend the critics or other individuals, why, in the name of all that justice so proverbial with all men—especially Englishmen— should I be attacked for Mr Buchanan’s errors?”

 

17 December 1885

Writes to Andrew Chatto (from Westward Ho, Southend) regarding Songs of the Cities and a novel called ‘Under the Spell’.

The tone of this letter is quite angry, perhaps the result of Buchanan’s difficulties with Alone in London. However, it could be taken as an early indication of Buchanan’s intention to retrieve his poetry from Chatto & Windus. ‘Under the Spell’, which Buchanan wanted Chatto to publish anonymously, and which they declined to publish at all, could be an early, alternate title for one of Buchanan’s other novels.

19 December 1885

Buchanan’s response to Mrs. Conover’s letter is printed in The Era. As well as stating that he has no quarrel with Amy Roselle, but has instituted an action for libel against her husband, Buchanan also deals with Mrs. Conover’s point about people not liking him, as follows:
     “I gather from Mrs Conover’s letter her impression that certain gentlemen of the press are personally prejudiced against myself. This may or may not be the case; but I have certainly no reason to complain of the public criticisms on Alone in London. My difference with certain critics is traceable to two distinct acts of my own as a critic: 1. My animadversions on a certain school of poetry, and (2) my article on Society journalism, both published some years ago in the Contemporary Review. Since then, no doubt, I have been attacked in and out of season; but I am not of the disposition to think that mankind is a conspiracy to do me injury, or to fancy myself a literary martyr. As far as I know, my best work has never failed to meet with some measure of praise, while my worst work has deserved all the abuse it got.”

 

31 December 1885

50th performance of Alone in London at the Olympic Theatre. According to the News of the World (3rd January, 1886):
‘On Thursday evening Mrs. Conover, the manageress, was requested to meet the company, and on her appearance Mr. Buchanan, in a brief speech, presented her with a stirrup cup in solid silver, inscribed “A gift to Mrs. Anna Conover, as a souvenir of the 50th performance of Alone in London.” Mrs. Conover briefly responded. The 50th representation of the play, which now runs merrily, was honoured with the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, the Duke and Duchess of Connaught, and a large party.’

 

 

1886

 

18 January 1886

Item in The Morning Post:
     ‘It is said that from first to last Mrs. Conover has spent no less a sum than £20,000 on her attempt to restore the drooping fortunes of the Olympic. Mr. Robert Buchanan, whose play, written in conjunction with Miss H. Jay, entitled “Alone in London,” continues to draw good houses, has taken the theatre for a month certain. Meanwhile Mrs. Conover has retired from management, but her lesseeship will not terminate until the 29th of September.’

 

25 January 1886

Item in The Daily News:
     ‘We learn from a note from Mr. Robert Buchanan that a contract has been signed by M. Roger on the one hand, representing the French Dramatic Authors’ Society, and the English authors on the other, for the immediate production of “Alone in London” in Paris. The adaptation has been made by M. Pierre Decourcelle. This, following upon the recent successful reproduction of “The Silver King”—a far better play, by the way—on the Parisian stage, affords another significant token that in the matter of international adaptation “the old order changeth, yielding place to new.”’

A later report in The Era of 21st August, 1886, gave the French version the title of Les Nuits de Londres, by William Busnach and Pierre Decourcelle, and said it had been accepted for the Ambigu Theatre. However I have been unable to find any evidence of a French production of Alone in London.

10 February 1886

Harriett Jay appears in the title role of a one-act lyrical romance, Sappho, written by Harry Lobb, with music by Walter Slaughter. It is the first in a series of three matinées at the Opera Comique in aid of the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street. According to the review in The Stage, the “house was but poorly filled.”

Reviews.

12 February 1886

100th performance of Alone in London at the Olympic Theatre.

 

13 February 1886

The Era prints a letter from Arthur Lotto, an actor with the Alone in London company, complaining of unfair dismissal and stating that he intends to institute legal proceedings against Buchanan. Lotto also reveals that:
No member of the company had a written contract with Mr Buchanan, all being verbally engaged.”

On 28th August, The Era prints another letter from Arthur Lotto explaining how the matter was resolved:
Mr Buchanan paid my claim, with costs, previous to the day fixed for the trial.”

17 February 1886

Second matinée of Sappho at the Opera Comique.
Harriett Jay sprains her ankle.

 

18 February 1886

Harriett Jay misses the third matinée of Sappho and Adah Cox takes over as Annie Meadows in Alone in London.

 

20 February 1886

Final performance (105th) of Alone in London at the Olympic Theatre.

Item in ‘London Gossip’ (dated 6th February) from The New York Mirror:
     “At present this lady [Harriett Jay] is busy over the musical play of Sappho, which is to have a dress rehearsal at the Opera Comique to-morrow. Hayden Coffin is to play Phaon to Harriet Jay’s Sappho. This lady’s familiar lady friend, Myra Porter, says that Miss Jay is superb in her new Greek costume. The two ladies entertain a deep friendship, the one, Miss Porter, knowing nothing of the stage personally, but being devoted to it for Miss Jay’s sake, and a constant theatre visitor behind the scenes. She accompanies the fair Harriet on her coming provincial tour, which is to begin after the 100th performance next week of Alone in London. Miss Jay is wildly enthusiastic concerning all which pertains to the dramatic profession.”

Buchanan now leaves the Olympic Theatre.

22 February 1886

The provincial tour of Alone in London begins with a performance at the Alexandra Theatre, Liverpool, starring Harriett Jay as Annie Meadows.

 

1 March 1886

A second law suit instigated by Amy Roselle against Robert Buchanan, for slander, has a first hearing in court related to a legal appeal from the defence.

The case is finally tried in June, 1887.

3 March 1886

Harriett Jay and other members of the cast of Alone in London provide some of the entertainment at the Egyptian Fancy Fair held at St. George’s Hall, Liverpool in aid of St. Francis Xavier’s Poor Schools. The event runs from Wednesday 3rd to Saturday 6th March.

 

20 March 1886

Item in The Era:
     “ALONE IN LONDON,” with Miss Harriett Jay and the London company, is having a successful career in the provinces. The number two rights of this drama, excluding the larger towns, have been secured for a large sum by Mr Elliston, the enterprising manager of the Theatre Royal, Bolton, who will immediately organise a company for its adequate production.

In Chapter 24 for her biography of Buchanan Jay writes:
But the play which made the most money was “Alone in London,” the very one for which he cared the least; indeed, he could never bring himself to speak of it with anything but contempt. However, it has never failed to make money for everybody connected with it, but the money so earned brought him no satisfaction, for he was always ashamed of the source from which it sprang, and so, taking my consent for granted, he sold the piece for an absurdly small sum to Messrs. Miller and Elliston, and so parted with the goose which laid the golden eggs.’

It would appear from this that the ‘large sum’ mentioned in The Era was incorrect, and Mr. Burnham’s testimony in the Roselle v. Conover court case of January, 1887, that Buchanan sold the rights for £250 was probably nearer the mark.

3 April 1886

An advert in The Era for the Harriett Jay touring production of Alone in London includes an announcement (signed ‘Harriett Jay. Nottingham, March 23d, 1886’) that Alfred Burnham is no longer the Business Manager of the production and all engagements “entered into by the said Alfred Burnham without her sanction , or that of Mr Robert Buchanan, are null and void.” Beneath this is Alfred Burnham’s notice of resignation.

 

12 April 1886

Sophia (Buchanan’s adaptation of Fielding’s Tom Jones) is produced at the Vaudeville Theatre, London at a matinée performance.

Reviews.

Although some critics complained that Buchanan had bowdlerized Fielding’s novel, Sophia proved to be a great popular success. It also began Buchanan’s association with the Vaudeville Theatre and its manager, Thomas Thorne, for whom Buchanan provided several more plays based on 18th century works.

13 April 1886

Sophia is transferred to the evening bill of the Vaudeville Theatre.

 

24 April 1886

An advert in The Era for the first provincial tour of Miller & Elliston’s Alone in London announces it will start on 20th July and visit the following towns: Warrington, Preston, Cardiff, Newport, Hanley, Yarmouth, Ramsgate, Accrington, Blackburn, Bolton, Bury, Rochdale, Oldham, Chester, St. Helens, Burnley, Huddersfield, Halifax and South Shields.

Although the London production of Alone in London was not the great financial success Buchanan hoped for, the play continued to tour the provinces into the next century. According to Henry Murray (in Chapter 26 of the Jay biography:
If he took a theatre he invariably lost by hundreds and sometimes by thousands, and that too on the very plays which founded the fortunes of others, as, for instance, when he sold ‘Alone in London’ for a mere song, to see it patrol the provinces year in year out, reaping a golden harvest for its lucky purchasers, who confessed that within ten years they had amassed £14,000 clear profit by the transaction.”

29 May 1886

Final date of Harriett Jay’s touring production of Alone in London takes place at the Grand Theatre, Leeds.

This is speculative, but I’ve not come across any further productions of the Harriett Jay company following this last week in Leeds. In the advert in The Era of 3rd April, vacant dates are given as May 31st, June 7th and 14th, so, perhaps these were filled and the tour ended on 19th June.

5 June 1886

Buchanan dines with the Archbishop of Canterbury. According to the report in The Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 8th June:
     “On Saturday night the Archbishop of Canterbury gave the first of a series of dinners at Lambeth Palace. One or two lights of the diplomatic world attended, with a number of peers and politicians. Literature was represented by Mr. Robert Buchanan, the poet and dramatist. Some curiosity has been expressed as to why the Scotch bard should have been chosen for the occasion. It is to be explained in this way. The Archbishop was much interested in Mr. Buchanan’s story the “New Abelard,” when it was published a couple of years ago. He communicated with the author, and asked for an opportunity to meet him. Since then they have been excellent friends. The Archbishop is to appear, I believe, as one of the characters in the second part of the “Earthquake” which is to be published shortly by Mr. Buchanan.”

 

14 June 1886

Storm Beaten revived at the Grand Theatre, Islington, London.
The play has been revised and the ending now matches that in the book, with the death of the villain.

 

15 June 1886

A short article, ‘Mr. Ruskin and Mr. Froude’, is published in the Pall Mall Gazette.

 

19 June 1886

The Era prints a letter from Buchanan responding to William Archer’s criticism of him in his book About the Theatre.

The section of Archer’s book relating to Buchanan is available here.

17 July 1886

100th performance of Sophia at the Vaudeville Theatre.

 

28 July 1886

Writes to Augustin Daly about A Madcap Prince, again.

Daly’s company was in London at this time. Buchanan writes to Daly the next day, saying he will try and see him on Saturday.

6 August 1886

An article in the Brooklyn Eagle concerning the recent trip to Europe of Walter L. Sinn (Colonel Sinn’s son) mentions that he has arranged to produce Buchanan’s play, Fascination, at the Park Theater, Brooklyn in September 1887.

The U.S. copyright of Fascination was registered at the Library of Congress on 9th June 1886, by Walter L. and Cora Sinn.

9 August 1886

Revival of Bachelors at the Opera Comique.

 

6 September 1886

Sophia opens its first provincial tour at the Prince of Wales’s Theatre, Birmingham.

 

18 September 1886

Bachelors transfers to Toole’s Theatre.

 

October 1886

That Winter Night published by Arrowsmith’s Bristol Library.
Advertised in The Times 12 October,1886.
Reviewed in The Academy 23 October, 1886.

 

2 October 1886

A Hero in Spite of Himself (a novelisation of the play which Buchanan tried to sell to Messrs. Shook and Collier in New York) begins serialisation in The York Herald (October 2 to December 24). It is also serialised in The Weekly Freeman (Dublin) and The Weekly Citizen (Dundee).

 

9 October 1886

Sophia returns to the Vaudeville Theatre after its provincial tour.

 

13 October 1886

A letter from Buchanan is printed in The Standard (and also The Era on 16th October) concerning criticisms that Sophia is a bowdlerised version of Tom Jones.

 

21 October 1886

The Pall Mall Gazette prints a letter from Buchanan in support of Edmund Gosse in which he states:
I have no particular reason to love this gentleman, and perhaps some right to distrust the circle to which he belongs; I do love fair play, however, and when I see a man of letters coming under the ban of a literary vendetta my sympathy is all for the victim. A plague on all your cliques, say I, who am neither a Capulet nor a Montague.”

This was Buchanan’s only contribution to a debate which was sparked by a review of Edmund Gosse’s From Shakespeare to Pope and was carried on in the pages of The Quarterly Review and The Athenæum as well as the Pall Mall Gazette. Oscar Wilde also joined the debate and in a letter to the Pall Mall Gazette (6/11/1886) noted a similarity between Buchanan’s letter and one from Swinburne:
“Truly the thunders of the Quarterly Review would seem to be like adversity: they make strange bedfellows. Mr. Swinburne, as we all know, has at other times paid Mr. Buchanan the compliment of immoderate abuse; but never before, I imagine, has he rendered in that quarter the last flattery of all—the flattery of imitation.”

4 November 1886

Sophia produced at Wallack’s Theatre, New York.

 

27 November 1886

Final (112th) performance of Bachelors at Toole’s Theatre.

 

15 December 1886

At the annual meeting of the Scottish Society of Literature and Art, held at the Christian Institute, Glasgow, the Secretary announced that Robert Buchanan had accepted his appointment as an honorary member of the Society.

 

22 December 1886

The Pall Mall Gazette acknowledges receipt of £5 from Buchanan for their New Year’s Gift to Walt Whitman.

 

 

1887

 

 

Sometime in 1886 or 1887 Buchanan takes up residence at Hamlet Court, Southend-on-Sea.
 

The earliest, surviving, letters with the Hamlet Court address occur in October 1887 but Jay in Chapter 23 of her biography conflates time and places the move after Buchanan’s return from America:
“On his return to England he went again to Southend, taking this time a house which he furnished himself, so resolved was he to make Southend his home. This house, which had already been the home of Sir Richard Cunliffe Owen and Sir Edwin Arnold, was a quaint old country place with extensive gardens and eight acres of meadow, and it was known as ‘Hamlet Court.’” Jay continues with a brief quotation from an undated letter to Roden Noel:
“I spend the time between this and London without the stage I think I should go melancholy mad. It is not only a source of profit but of recreation, as I produce and stage-manage my own dramas in every detail. I think moreover there is moral gain in rubbing shoulders with non-literary people. Perhaps I can persuade you to spend a few days here. There is no lovelier spot when the spring becomes a certainty. Just now I am doing the influenza, and your letter comes with sweet refreshment and memory of old times.”’
Although Buchanan did stay in Southend (at the Westward Ho boarding house) immediately on his return from America, I doubt whether the permanent move to Hamlet Court occurred until the success of Sophia was definitely established, which would have been in the summer of 1886 at the earliest. Before that Buchanan would have been involved with the production of Alone in London, which was not a financial success. Also (not a great clue, but worth mentioning) the Prefatory Note of A Look Round Literature is dated ‘London, October, 1886’ and the Dedication, ‘London, January, 1887’. Personally, I would suggest the spring or summer of 1887 for the move.

1 January 1887

The Moment After begins serialisation in several provincial newspapers including the Sheffield Daily Telegraph and The York Herald, On 2nd January serialisation begins in The People and, on January 8th, The Irish Fireside.

 

10 January 1887

Item in The Morning Post:
     “’The Blue Bells of Scotland’ is the title of a new play written by Mr. Robert Buchanan for the American stage.

This is the earliest mention I’ve come across of The Blue Bells of Scotland, which was not produced until September, 1887.

15 January 1887

200th performance of Sophia at the Vaudeville Theatre.

 

18 January 1887

The court case brought by Amy Roselle against Mrs. Anna Conover, claiming unfair dismissal from the cast of Alone in London and slander, begins at the High Court, Queen’s Bench Division. According to the report in The Times:
“The case appeared to excite considerable interest, as the court was densely crowded in every available corner; among those present were many eminent members of the theatrical profession.”
The first day of the trial was taken up with the plaintiff’s case. As well as Amy Roselle, several other members of the Alone in London company were called to the witness box.

 

19 January 1887

Second day of Rosselle v. Conover. The defence presents its case, calling Mrs. Conover, Harriett Jay and Robert Buchanan as witnesses. The charge of slander is dismissed but the jury finds for the plaintiff on the unfair dismissal charge and awards the full amount claimed - £190.

 

26 January 1887

A letter from Buchanan is printed in The Standard (and The Era on 29th January) in which he counters the claim made in the court case that Alone in London was losing £200 per week.

Buchanan reckons that there was an initial outlay of over £1,000, then weekly running expenses of £800 in a theatre which, when ‘closely packed’, could only make £110 per performance:
It can thus readily be seen that many months would have had to elapse before business would be profitable.
     From the time when I personally took the theatre and continued the run of the play up till the present moment Alone in London has cleared many thousands of pounds, both in England and America. The authors’ profits alone have amounted to nearly £2,500.”
A sum which is only £100 more than that originally claimed for the American rights alone.

29 January 1887

A letter from Mrs. Conover is printed in The Era (beneath that of Buchanan’s) which refutes Buchanan’s claims about Alone in London, stating that she bore all the expenses of the play on the understanding that she would receive some of the profits from the provincial tours, which had not been forthcoming.
A shorter version os the letter also appears in The Standard.

 

February 1887

A Look Round Literature published by Ward and Downey.
Advertised in The Pall Mall Gazette 21 February, 1887.
Reviewed in The Academy 26 February, 1887.

Reviews.

A Look Round Literature includes A Note on Dante Rossetti’.

16 February 1887

The Pall Mall Gazette prints an interview with Amy Roselle and her husband, Arthur Dacre, about the court case.

 

17 February 1887

Buchanan writes to Edmund Gosse (from the Regents Park address) in reply to a letter about A Look Round Literature:
Mine would indeed be a phenomenal book if it awakened no disagreement, especially since it contains so much heterodoxy. On one great point I am glad, however, to receive authoritative corroboration. Herbert Spencer writes to me saying that he long ago came to similar conclusions with myself, concerning Goethe.
     Your friend Dogbery may have stumbled on the truth concerning Hugo; he is nevertheless, in most of his utterances, a silly fellow—and as spiteful as silly—& as disingenuous as spiteful. But nearly all criticism is vicious & wicked, & honest men are scarce.”

 

18 February 1887

A letter from Buchanan is printed in The Pall Mall Gazette objecting to the interview with Amy Roselle, believing it may be prejudicial to the slander case which she has brought against him and which has yet to be heard in court.

Howard Paul writes to The Stage concerning an item in the New York Dramatic News which quoted a letter from Buchanan to Col. Sinn saying that he (Howard Paul) had criticised the American production of Sophia at Wallack’s Theatre.

 

19 February 1887

Buchanan writes to The Era explaining that the item in the Dramatic News was written in a private letter and was not intended for publication.
I need hardly say that life and correspondence will soon become impossible, if every stray sentence or word in private letters is to be printed, apart from its context, and misconstrued.”
Buchanan goes on to praise Lester Wallack as “the cleverest, the most generous, and, in every respect, the most accomplished of American managers.”

 

21 February 1887

Writes to Marie Corelli in reply to her letter (forwarded from Ward & Downey, publishers of A Look Round Literature):
“... I am very glad, of course, that my Essays have amused you. Of your own writings, to which you allude, I know very little beyond their titles; but I shall certainly take an early opportunity of making myself acquainted with them, as you suggest.”

 

24 February 1887

The Pall Mall Gazette prints a list of an imaginary English Academy of Letters, as voted for by their readers. Buchanan does not make the first forty, but appears as joint 53rd with Lord Selborne.

The full list is available here.

5 March 1887

A letter from Buchanan is printed in The Academy responding to Hall Caine’s review of A Look Round Literature.

 

9 March 1887

A letter from Buchanan is printed in The Pall Mall Gazette in response to its review of A Look Round Literature.

 

14 March 1887

Alone in London is revived at the Pavilion Theatre, Mile End, London.

The London rights to the play had been acquired by Morris Abrahams and it was produced at various theatres around the city during the next few years.

26 March 1887

Item from The Era:
     “The new comedy-drama which Mr Robert Buchanan has written for Mr Beerbohm-Tree, and which will shortly be produced under that gentleman’s management at the Comedy, is in four acts, and contains important parts for Mr Tree himself, Miss Marion Terry, Lady Monckton, Mr Brookfield, and Mr Sugden. A new romantic play by the same author, which will shortly be produced in London, has already been secured for the provinces by Messrs Miller and Elliston, and will, in all probability, open the fine theatre which Col. Sinn is now creating in New York.”

Beerbohm-Tree took over the management of the Comedy Theatre in April, 1887. However, in the autumn of the same year he moved to the Haymarket Theatre and it was there, in January 1888, that Buchanan’s play, Partners was produced.

The other play is Fascination.

9 April 1887

A Dark Night’s Bridal (a one act play based on a prose sketch by Robert Louis Stevenson) is presented as the curtain-raiser for Sophia at the Vaudeville Theatre.

Reviews.

14 May 1887

Alone in London opens at the Theatre Royal, Melbourne, Australia. The colonial rights having been secured by Mr. Bland Holt.

 

30 May 1887

Fascination, starring Cora Tanner, opens for a one week trial at the Park Theater, Brooklyn.

 

June 1887

‘Annus Aureolus: An Ode on the Jubilee of the Empress Victoria’ is published in The Contemporary Review.

The poem was reprinted in the 1892 collection, The Buchanan Ballads Old and New, as ‘The Golden Year: An Ode on the Jubilee of the Empress Victoria’.

7 June 1887

The other court case brought against Buchanan by Amy Roselle, alleging slander, is settled at the Queen’s Bench Division. Buchanan had apologised and agreed to pay all costs and so the charge was withdrawn.

 

11 June 1887

Item from The Era:
     “We are requested by Mr Robert Buchanan to state that the new and revised version of The Queen of Connaught has been secured for an autumn tour by Miss Bealby, under the direction of Mr Henry Neville. A number of first-class towns, however, have been reserved by the authors. The Queen of Connaught, originally produced at the Olympic Theatre, under Mr Neville’s management, has been entirely rewritten and rearranged in view of recent political events, and in this altered form will shortly be reproduced by Mr Buchanan in the metropolis.”

Although the provincial tour starring Miss Bealby did go ahead, there were no productions of the play in the ‘first-class towns’ or the metropolis. However, the mention of ‘authors’ does suggest that the play was the joint work of Buchanan and Jay.

15 June 1887

350th performance of Sophia at the Vaudeville Theatre, London.

 

9 July 1887

Item in The Era:
     “The Novelty Theatre will shortly reopen under the management of Miss Harriett Jay, who will make her reappearance in a new romantic drama by Mr Robert Buchanan. The house will be redecorated for the occasion, and, in all probability, renamed.”

This was Harriett Jay’s first attempt at theatre-management. Presumably financed by the success of Sophia.

12 September 1887

The Blue Bells of Scotland (based on Buchanan’s novel, A Child of Nature) is produced at the Novelty Theatre. Harriett Jay appears in the role of Lady Ethel Gordon.

Reviews.
The play receives mixed reviews and barely lasts a month. However, Oscar Wilde is quite kind to it, concluding his review in The Lorgnette (14th September):
“The house is one of the prettiest and most comfortable in London, and Miss Jay begins her managerial campaign under very favourable auspices.”

19 September 1887

400th performance of Sophia at the Vaudeville Theatre, London.

 

27 September 1887

Item in The Birmingham Daily Post:
     “The Central News learns that a syndicate, composed of Highland members of Parliament and prominent Highlanders, is about to be formed to produce throughout the country, and afterwards in the United States and in the colonies, Mr. Robert Buchanan’s drama, ‘The Blue Bells of Scotland,’ now on the boards of the Novelty Theatre, London. The object aimed at is to interest the public at home and abroad in the Highland crofter question.”

According to a report in The Devon and Exeter Daily Gazette (29th September) Dr. Clarke was one the M.P.s involved in this scheme. And the Aberdeen Evening Express (1st October) reported that “The arrangements for the production of Mr Robert Buchanan’s new Scottish drama, ‘The Blue Bells of Scotland,’ in the provinces, with genuine crofters in the eviction and other Highland scenes, are, I understand, nearly completed.”

30 September 1887

Item in The Stage:
     “Mr. Thomas Thorne has purchased from Robert Buchanan the sole acting rights of Sophia in England, America, and the Colonies—a good bargain, for Sophia is a clever play, and will live.”

According to Chapter 24 of the Jay biography, Thomas Thorne paid £600 for the acting rights of Sophia.

6 October 1887

Fascination (by Harriett Jay and Robert Buchanan) is produced at a matinée at the Novelty Theatre. Harriett Jay stars as Lady Madge Slashton, who assumes the identity of Charles Marlowe. The latter was the name Jay chose to use as a pseudonym for her later collaborations with Buchanan.

Reviews.

‘Charles Marlow’ is also the name of a character in Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops To Conquer.

8 October 1887

Final performance of The Blue Bells of Scotland at the Novelty Theatre. According to the advert in The Times:
“In accordance with the wishes of the syndicate formed by Highland gentlemen and Members of Parliament for the purchase of The Blue Bells of Scotland, that popular drama will be temporarily withdrawn previous to its production in a larger theatre. It has been found quite impracticable to do justice to such a play on the small stage of the Novelty. It will, however, be reproduced elsewhere on a more elaborate scale, previous to its tour through Great Britain and the United States of America.

 

15 October 1887

The Heir of Linne commences serialisation The Sheffield Weekly Independent.

It is also serialised in The Weekly Mail (Wales and the West Country) (22 October, 1887) and The Lancashire Evening Post (11 September, 1888).

17 October 1887

A letter, signed “B.”, is printed in The Saint James’s Gazette, detailing a hoax perpetrated on several publishers.

Buchanan has been suggested as a possible source for this hoax, but there is no proof. The letter is available in the Miscellanea section.

22 October 1887

A two column advert for Fascination in The Era includes the following announcement:
“Miss Harriett Jay begs to announce that she has accepted the offer of a distinguished London Manager to transfer to his Theatre the Comedy of Fascination, which achieved so signal a triumph on its initial London Performance, and that on its Reproduction under his Management she will resume her Original Part of Lady Madge Slashton. Under these circumstances, she is prepared to receive immediate offers for the temporary use of the Novelty Theatre, on Share or Rental. The Auditorium has been Redecorated, a New Act-Drop has been added, and the Theatre is the prettiest, safest, and most convenient in London.”

The manager referred to is Thomas Thorne of the Vaudeville Theatre.

24 October 1887

The Blue Bells of Scotland plays for a week at the Grand Theatre, Islington. The cast is substantially the same as that of the Novelty, including Harriett Jay.

Writes to Andrew Chatto from ‘Hamlet Court, Southend, Essex’ (the address is printed) asking if he is “hurrying up the printer of City of Dream?”
This is the earliest surviving letter with the Hamlet Court address. There are letters to Chatto from 9, Gower Street, Bedford Square, earlier in the month regarding the proofs of The City of Dream.

Although The Blue Bells of Scotland was added to Miller and Elliston’s adverts for possible provincial tours in The Era (20th August and 17th September, 1887), I have not come across any reviews of further performances of the play. I have also found no evidence of any tours, in Britain, America or the colonies, organised by the “syndicate formed by Highland gentlemen and members of Parliament”.

25 October 1887

Harriett Jay gives a reading of the Buchanan poem, Nell, at the matinée benefit for the actor, Mr. W. H. Pennington, at the Opera Comique. The ‘Burmah Act’ from The Blue Bells of Scotland is also performed.

 

9 November 1887

Final (453rd) performance of Sophia at the Vaudeville Theatre.

 

3 December 1887

The first of a series of articles by George Moore is printed in The Evening News. It contains the following comment about Buchanan:
“There it a possibility of doing artistic work in the novel, none on the stage. This is my profound conviction, and this is why I do not seek recognition as a writer for the stage; the plums are tempting; I should make more out of an unsuccessful play than a successful novel. But I shrink from the prostitution that Mr. Buchanan has descended to, and I doubt if anything conceived in a spirit totally antagonistic to the spirit of the age could be anything but a sterile eccentricity, so like all who are not literary strumpets I dream of the stage at odd moments, play with the dream for a while, and put it aside, recognising the fact firmly that that dream may never become a reality.”
Subsequent articles criticise Sophia and lead to Buchanan taking out a libel action against the newspaper.

 

10 December 1887

An article about the forthcoming Glasgow International Exhibition in The Glasgow Herald mentions that Robert Buchanan has been selected to write an Ode for the Opening Ceremony.
“Mr. Buchanan is a Scotchman, if, indeed, we may not say that he is a Glasgow man, and we believe the hope is that the ode may be set to music by a Scotchman. Nothing definite has yet been arranged in this direction, but there can be no hesitation as to the maker of music who should be asked to harmonise Mr Buchanan’s verses. A. C. Mackenzie is not only a Scotchman, but he is one of our foremost British composers, whose art has not yet reached its highest level. We should hope he may be asked, and that being asked he will consent, to associate himself in this way with our Exhibition. The ode will probably be sung by the members of the Choral Union.”

 

24 December 1887

Item in The Era:
     “Mr Robert Buchanan has undertaken, at the request of the Executive Council, to write the inaugural Ode for the International Exhibition in Glasgow, and Dr. Mackenzie has agreed to compose the necessary music. The Ode will be sung at the opening of the Exhibition by the Prince of Wales next April.”

Just to be clear, The Prince of Wales is opening the Exhibition, not singing the Ode.

Robert Buchanan Timeline - continued

7. 1888 - 1890

_____

 

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