23 March 2022 / Events
Edward Stirling: Victorian actor, adapter and bigamist – with readings from his plays, including The Cabin Boy
Edward Stirling (1809-1894) – originally Edward Lambert- began his career as a bank clerk before going on stage at London’s Pavilion in 1828. He was a prolific dramatist, with at least 190 plays, burlettas and spectacles to his name, many of which borrowed plotlines and characters from other writers, notably Charles Dickens. Stirling’s adaptation of Dickens’ The Cricket on the Hearth had its premiere at The Adelphi in December 1845, just days after its publication. Stirling became stage manager at the Adelphi, and worked in a similar capacity at the Surrey, the Olympic and Covent Garden Theatres. Although married in 1832 to the actress Mary Anne Hall (stage name Fanny Stirling), the marriage was troubled and soon ended.
The Cabin Boy, performed at the Adelphi in 1846, is a tale of inter-racial romance, drawing upon elements of nautical melodrama. The play takes place in the French colony of Guadalupe, where slavery was still legal; this practice ended only in 1848, unlike Britain, which abolished West Indian slavery in 1833. Its central figures are the Frenchman Henri and a mixed-race woman, Jenny. Their union is thwarted by Vincent, a pirate turned plantation owner, who uses Jenny’s long-held secret to threaten her. Susan Solomon’s research has uncovered new material, which will be accompanied by selected readings from The Cabin Boy.
Speaker: Susan Solomon (Society for Theatre Research).
This lecture will be online on Zoom. After booking, you should receive your log-in details via email 24 hours before the lecture.