Special Collections & Archives

Charles Dickens Theatre Collection

Martin Chuzzlewit

Martin Chuzzlewit was published serially from January 1843 and concluded in July 1844. During this time A Christmas Carol was also published. The Chimes, Dickens' second Christmas story, was published five months after the conclusion of this serial.

Enthusiasm for new Dickens adaptations does not appear to have been high; Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby and, most recently, The Old Curiosity Shop were still being performed on stage. However, the Lyceum produced a version of Martin Chuzzlewit just as the serialisation was concluding, written by the stalwart Edward Stirling. Dickens supported this production, but declined to write a prologue, explaining to the theatre's manager, Mr Robert Keeley, that he could not contribute to a stage adaptation because of his well-known and consistent stance against theatrical versions of his work. However, he probably attended rehearsals, and wrote to the manager that ‘I presume Mrs Keeley will do Ruth Pinch. If so, I feel sure about her, and of your Mrs Gamp I am certain [Robert Keeley was known for his female impersonations]. But a queer sensation begins in my legs and comes upward to my forehead when I think of Tom.’ (24th June 1844).

Pirate versions enjoyed some success – notably an adaptation by Charles Webb which was performed at the Strand and the Victoria Theatres. Adaptations of parts of the novel were particularly popular, for example ‘Sairey Gamp’, which toured the provinces, and later ‘Tom Pinch’ by Joseph Dilley and Lewis Clifton. By 1850 there had been around 22 stagings of Martin Chuzzlewit in some guise, although very few had taken place in America. This may be due to less than positive descriptions of Martin's experiences in America.

By 1900, there had been at least 44 productions of Martin Chuzzlewit on stage. This would probably have been a modest success for work by anyone other than Dickens. During the early part of the twentieth century, Martin Chuzzlewit was largely unperformed, but the novel was slowly restored to performance from the 1950s in radio dramas.

Special Collections Holdings

Item type Item information Author Item number
Playscript

Martin Chuzzlewit! : a drama, in three acts

(first performed at the Lyceum Theatre, London, 8 July 1844)

Edward Stirling
(1807-1894)

0595790 0595791

 

Playbill

The 'new' version of Martin Chuzzlewit and Robert le Grange and The New Footman

(performed at the Strand Theatre, London,
22 July 1844
)

Charles Webb
(d.1889)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

Mrs Webb (wife of Charles Webb)

0595553
Playbill

The Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit and Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp

(performed at Theatre Royal, Lyceum, London, 5-7 September 1844)

Edward Stirling
(1807-1894)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

unknown

0595910
Playbill

Ours, Sairy Gamp and Steeplechase!

(performed at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham, 6-11 November 1871)

Thomas William Robertson
(1829-1871)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

John Maddison Morton
(1811-1891)

0595484
Book

The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit

Household edition

(Chapman and Hall, 1872)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

0015541
F042024

Playbill

Progress, Ours, The Bonnie Fishwife, and Sairy Gamp

(performed at the Old Theatre Royal, Bristol, 22-27 September 1873)

Thomas William Robertson
(1829-1871)

Charles Selby
(1802-1863)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

0592780
Playscript

Tom Pinch: a domestic comedy

(first performed at the Vaudeville Theatre, London, 10 March 1881)

Joseph J. Dilley

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

0591682
Playscript

Martin Chuzzlewit: a drama

(J. Dicks, 1883)

Harry Simms

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

0595121
0595121
0596497
Playscript

Martin Chuzzlewit: a drama

(W. Barth, c.1880s)

Charles Webb
(d.1889)

0596294
Playscript

Martin Chuzzlewit

(undated)

Arthur Williams
(1844-1915)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

0596412

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Last Updated: 02/02/2018