Charlotte BrontÃ«'s Jane Eyre was published in October, 1847, and within three months a version was on stage in London. By 1900, at least eight different stage versions had appeared in England, America and continental Europe. For the first time, all eight plays are available in Patsy Stoneman's critical edition, richly illustrated by facsimile reproductions of manuscripts, unique Victorian playbills, contemporary etchings of theatres, and portraits of playwrights and actors. Stoneman's introduction places the plays' bizarre innovations in the context of theatre history and of contemporary debates on class and gender, while each edited play-text is accompanied by detailed notes, based on original research, on the playwright, theatre(s) and performances, and contemporary reception. Most of these plays existed only in manuscript, and were quickly forgotten, yet they make fascinating reading. Nineteenth-century playwrights had no reverence for a text we regard as canonical, but added to, deleted from and twisted Charlotte BrontÃ«'s story to suit their own purposes. One play has a cast of comic servants who follow Jane from Lowood to Thornfield. In another, the madwoman is revealed as the sister-in-law of a blameless Rochester. A third has Blanche Ingram reduced to a fallen woman, seduced and abandoned by John Reed. Jane Eyre on Stage will appeal to readers interested in literary and theatrical history, cultural studies, and the intriguing afterlives of famous books.
Table of Contents
Contents: General editor's preface; Introduction; John Courtney's Jane Eyre or The Secrets of Thornfield Manor (1848); John Brougham's Jane Eyre (1849); Anonymous Jane Eyre (1867); Charlotte Birch-Pfeiffer's Jane Eyre or The Orphan of Lowood (1870); Mme von Heringen Hering's Jane Eyre (1877); James Willing's Jane Eyre or Poor Relations (1879); T.H. Paul's Jane Eyre (1879); W.G. Wills's Jane Eyre (1882); Works cited; Index.
'This excellent volume makes available a group of fascinating and hitherto unexplored texts and presents them according to the highest standards of scholarship. It will be an invaluable resource for theatre scholars, BrontÃ« specialists, and those interested in the afterlife of canonical works of literature'. Heather Glen, University of Cambridge, UK ’...a carefully researched book...Everything is presented [...] with the highest standards of scholarship...a fascinating account of the history of the 'popular' theatre of the late nineteenth century (especially in London) in general and of how Jane Eyre was perceived and assimilated by Victorian society in particular...studiously researched and interesting.' BrontÃ«Blog ’... Patsy Stoneman has produced a useful and illuminating study... If for no other reason, this book would be welcome simply as an accessible version of plays that exist only in manuscript in the British Library [...] or in fairly rare acting editions... These richly rewarding texts have been edited well by Stoneman, with some thoughtful notes on Victorian melodrama in general and specific theatres in particular.’ Times Literary Supplement ’Stoneman is one of the few academics to have written on the subject of adaptations of the BrontÃ«'s novels, and her latest work is, as usual, meticulously researched, as well as thought provoking in its analyses... It provides a fascinating read, even for those who are not serious scholars of the subject, and, for those who are, it will be a very welcome addition to the field.’ BrontÃ« Studies ’This important volume is an indispensable resource for scholars interested in Jane Eyre, Victorian melodrama, theatrical adaptation, or nineteenth-century popular culture.’ Nineteenth Century Studies