Special Collections & Archives

 

Charles Dickens Theatre Collection

Bleak House

Although Bleak House is one of the most frequently adapted of Charles Dickens’ works, its theatrical beginnings were inauspicious. Some have stated that as Dickens grew older, his writing became less theatrical in style; the novel's complex web of plots, subplots and an array of characters offered a challenge to any would-be dramatiser.

Published in twenty monthly instalments from March 1852 until September 1853, it was only the death of the character Jo, the crossing sweeper, which ignited contemporary theatrical adaptations. Few productions took place during the 1860s. However, the momentum of the tale seems to have built up during the 1870s, with many revivals and productions in celebration of Dickens’ life. J. P. Burnett’s Jo, first performed at the Prince of Wales Theatre in Liverpool in November 1875 became widely popular and transferred to the Globe Theatre the following year. In the 1880s Jo plays became common, so that, by 1900, there had been over 100 adaptations of Bleak House.

Special Collections Holdings

Item type Item information Author Item number
Book

Dombey and Son

(Bradbury & Evans, 1848)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

F046964

 

Playscript

Dombey & Son ; or, Good Mrs Brown, the child stealer : a drama

(Penny Pictorial Play no. 4, 1848)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

0596104

 

Playscript

Dombey & Son ; or, Good Mrs Brown, the child stealer : a drama

(Penny Pictorial Play no. 4, n.d.)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

Harwood Cooper

0590810

Playscript

Dombey & Son : dramatized from Dickens’ novel

(S. French, New York, 1850)

John Brougham
(1814-1880)

0590653
0590654
0590655

Playscript

Captain Cuttle : a comic drama

(first performed at Burton's Theatre, New York, 14 January 1850)

John Brougham
(1814-1880)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

0592544

 

Playscript

Dombey and Son

(J. Dicks, 1880)

John Brougham
(1814-1880)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

0590656
0597111
0590375

Programme

The House of Dombey

(performed at Kodak Hall, Harrow, London, 7 November 1906)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

Florence Teignmouth Shore

F174827

 

Programme

Two Peeps at Pickwick; Dombey and Son

(performed at the Savoy Theatre, Strand, London, 14 July 1911)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

Metcalfe Wood

F174826

 

Programme

Emlyn Williams as Charles Dickens

(performed at the Criterion Theatre, Westminster, London, 19 November 1951)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

Emlyn Williams
(1905-1987)

F172755

 

Programme

Emlyn Williams as Charles Dickens

(performed at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, 29 February 1960)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

Emlyn Williams
(1905-1987)

F173232

 

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Last Updated: 08/06/2016