Special Collections & Archives

 

Charles Dickens Theatre Collection

The personal history of David Copperfield

The fact that David Copperfield was written in the first person required some ingenuity on the part of the dramatisers of the tale, who do not appear to have been wholly comfortable with this narrative device until later adaptations. Six theatres staged a version of David Copperfield before the serialisation was complete. Theatrical versions were performed on both sides of the Atlantic, including a production of The Deal Boatman at Drury Lane, the first ‘patent’ playhouse to perform Dickens. By 1860 there had been around 25 productions of the novel.

It was Andrew Halliday’s Little Em’ly which, in 1869, sparked a new wave of enthusiasm for David Copperfield on stage. Dickens himself praised this adaptation, having appointed Halliday to write for his journal, All Year Round. Following Little Em’ly, pirate playwrights were inspired to make use of the plethora of characters for stage adaptations; Micawber was another popular spin-off from the author’s work. By 1900, versions of David Copperfield had probably been produced more than 118 times. However, this novel is another which was more popularly performed in the twentieth century than the nineteenth.

During the first decade of the twentieth century in particular, David Copperfield was produced on stage with some relish; the decade also saw a number of amateur productions of the tale. The enduring fascinating with the characters of Copperfield meant that this work was actually more popular in the century after Dickens’ death than during his lifetime. Probably the only other work by this prolific author to have achieved similar status on stage in the twentieth century was A Christmas Carol.

Special Collections Holdings

Item type Item information Author Item number
Book

The personal history of David Copperfield

(Bradbury & Evans, 1850)

Charled Dickens (1812-1870)

Hablot Knight Browne (1815-1882)

001239000

Playscript

David Copperfield : a drama, in three acts, adapted from Dickens' popular work of the same name

(performed at the Lyceum Theatre, London, 6 January 1851)

(Dicks' Edition)

John Brougham (1810-1880)

 

059065000

059037400

059037300

059065100

Playscript

David Copperfield : a drama, in three acts, adapted from Dickens' popular work of the same name

(first performed 1851)

John Brougham (1810-1880)

 

059064900

Playbill

Jeanette's Wedding, Little Em'ly and Old Goosebury

(performed at the Olympic Theatre, London, 1869)

Leicester Buckingham (1825-1867)

Augustus Harris (1825-1873)

Andrew Halliday (1830-1877)

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

0595922

 

Playscript (manuscript)

Little Emily : a drama in four acts

(performed at the Olympic Theatre, London, 9 October 1869)

Andrew Halliday (1830-1877)

 

059830700

Playbill

Jeanette's Wedding, Little Em'ly and The Gooseberry

(performed at the Olympic Theatre, London, 22 October 1869)

Leicester Buckingham (1825-1867)

Augustus Harris (1825-1873)

Andrew Halliday (1830-1877)

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

0595535

 

Programme

Jeanette's Wedding, Little Em'ly and The Gooseberry

(performed at the Olympic Theatre, London, undated)

Leicester Buckingham (1825-1867)

Augustus Harris (1825-1873)

Andrew Halliday (1830-1877)

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

F174795

 

Playscript (parts)

Little Emily : a collection of parts

(1869)

Andrew Halliday (1830-1877)

 

059890800

Playbill

Perpetual Motion, Em'ly, The Ark on the Sands and The Water Nymph

(performed at the Old Theatre Royal, Bristol, c.1870s)

Colin Henry Hazlewood (1823-1875)

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

J. F. M'Ardle

Alfred Murray

0594037

 

Playscript (manuscript)

Lost Emily : adapted from Charles Dicken's celebrated work "David Copperfield" ; in four acts

(1876)

M. Wood

 

059810600

Programme

Turn Him Out, Little Em'ly and The Goose with the Golden Eggs

(performed at the Royal Adelphi Theatre, London, 30 October 1875)

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

 

F174815

 

Letter

Correspondence to Andrew Melville I regarding productions of Naomie, Uncle Tom's Cabin, David Copperfield, For Honour's Sake, Shaughraun, The Wandering Jew and Sweeney Todd

(1880)

Edmund Blake

 

0600087

 

Programme

Bounce!, Cryptoconchoidsyphonostomata, Snowball, The Critic; or, a Tragedy Rehearsed, Cut Off with a Shilling, Micawber and Flying Scud!!

(performed at the Theatre Royal, Manchester, 10 May 1880)

C. Alfred Maltby (d. 1901)

Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816)

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Andrew Halliday (1830-1877)

Dionysius Lardner Boucicault (1820-1890)

F174794

 

Programme

Those Horrid Garrotters!, Put to the Test and Little Em'ly!

(performed at the Olympic Theatre, London, undated)

Brandon Ellis (fl. 1870)

Westland Marston (1819-1890)

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Andrew Halliday (1830-1877)

F174796

 

Programme

A Gunpowder Plot!, Put to the Test and Little Em'ly!

(performed at the Olympic Theatre, London, undated)

Sidney Hodges (fl.1870)

Westland Marston (1819-1890)

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Andrew Halliday (1830-1877)

F174797

 

Book

The personal history of David Copperfield

(John Dicks, 1880s)

People's Edition

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

 

028657500

Programme

Little Em'ly

(performed at the Adelphi Theatre, London, 1 August 1903)

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

T. Gideon Warren

F174800

 

Programme

David Garrick, Vandyke Brown and David Copperfield

(performed at New Theatre, Cardiff, 6 May 1907)

Thomas William Robertson (1829-1871)

Adolphus Charles Troughton

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

F174648

 

Playscript (manuscript)

Little Emily : an adaptation of "David Copperfield" – Act Two only

(no evidence of production, undated)

Frank Pettingell (1891-1966)

 

059809100

Programme

David Copperfield

(performed at His Majesty's Theatre, London, c.1914)

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Louis N. Parker

F174852

 

Programme

David Copperfield

(performed at His Majesty's Theatre, London, 6 January 1915)

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Louis N. Parker

F174799

 

Play Pictorial

The Passing Show of 1915 (includes a scene from David Copperfield)

(performed at the Palace Theatre, Cambridge Circus, London, 1915)

Arthur Wimperis (1874-1953)

Hartley Carrick

261915d

 

Programme

Miss Kitty Emson, Carr Lynn, Strength Brothers and The Passing Show of 1915 (includes a scene from David Copperfield)

(performed at the Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London, 9 June 1915)

Arthur Wimperis (1874-1953)

Hartley Carrick

Herman Finck (1872-1939)

F174793

 

Flyer

David Copperfield

(performed at the Lyceum Theatre, London, 1923)

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

 

0680339

 

Programme

The Peep-Show

(performed at London Hippodrome, London, undated)

Lauri Wylie (fl. 1920)

F174709

 

 

University of Kent - © University of Kent

The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 (0)1227 764000t the Library | Give Library feedback | Library Regulations

Last Updated: 02/06/2016