Special Collections & Archives

 

 

Charles Dickens Theatre Collection

Old Curiosity Shop

Introduced as part of Master Humphrey's Clock, The Old Curiosity Shop was originally told in the first person, by Master Humphrey. However, Dickens changed his mind about how he wanted the narrative to progress, and altered his style after the third chapter. This novel drew away from the more melodramatic stories of Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby, with its downbeat conclusion. The Old Curiosity Shop was published as a separate book in 1841.

The popularity of performances of this novel were considerable, but nonetheless it marked the beginning of a decline in the popularity of Dickens adaptations on stage, until a revival with productions of The Cricket on the Hearth in 1845. Only two plays were produced while the novel was still in its serial run, between April 1840 and February 1841 – admirable for any work but one penned by Dickens.

In Europe, interest in this novel lapsed during the 1860s, while in New York, the novel was successfully produced on stage. Popular American versions were then re-introduced to Britain, most notably John Brougham’s Little Nell and the Marchioness. In the 1870s, around 50 productions of The Old Curiosity Shop took place in Britain, compared to around nine in the 1860s.

The reason for the number of adaptations on stage in America, compared to Europe, may have been due to the sheer distance which separated American playwrights from the complaints and reprisals of the original author. It has also been suggested that at this time in Britain there may have been an increased recognition of an author’s rights over their work, or a greater reserve surrounding the dramatisation of novels in general. Since Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby were still being played and were still popular, it is also possible that there was enough of Dickens’ work on stage to satisfy Victorian audiences.

Special Collections Holdings

Item type Item information Author Item number
Book

The Old Curiosity Shop: a tale

(Chapman and Hall, 1841)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

 

F197254
Programme


The Old Curiosity Shop, The Innkeeper's Daughter and Poor Richard and Old Father Time

(performed at Sadler's Wells, London, on
18 January 1841)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
F174811
Programme

Poppleton's Predicaments, The Old Curiosity Shop and Perfect Love

(performed at the Olympic Theatre, London, c.1870)

C. M. Rae

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

Andrew Halliday
(1830-1877)

Robert Reece
(1838-1891)

F174841
Playbill

Nell, Perfect Love and Poppleton's Predicaments

(performed at the Olympic Theatre, London,
25 February c.1871)

Andrew Halliday
(1830-1877)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

Robert Reece
(1838-1891)

C. M. Rae

0595538
Playbill

Nell and A Thumping Legacy

(performed at the New Theatre Royal, Bristol,
9 October 1871)

Andrew Halliday
(1830-1877)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

John Maddison Morton
(1811-1891)

0592663
Playbill

Ours, Progress, The Goose with the Golden Eggs and Nell

(performed at the Old Theatre Royal, Bristol, 26-27 September 1873)

Thomas William Robertson
(1829-1871)

Augustus Mayhew
(1826-1875)

Henry Sutherland Edwards
(1828-1906)

Andrew Halliday
(1830-1877)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

0592781
Programme

Delicate Ground and The Old Curiosity Shop

(performed at the Opera Comique, London,
c. 9 February 1884)

Charles Dance
(1794-1863)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

John Brougham
(1810-1880)

F174812
Playscript

The Old Curiosity Shop

(performed at the Theatre Royal, York,
14 May 1877)

George Lander

0593105
0592895
Postcard

Black and white postcard of a photograph of an actor dressed as Little Nell's Grandfather

undated

  F175799
Postcard

Colour postcard of Dick Swiveller

undated

Joseph Clayton Clark (a.k.a. Kyd)
(1856-1937)
F175822
Postcard

Colour postcard of Sampson Brass

undated

Joseph Clayton Clark (a.k.a. Kyd)
(1856-1937)
F175823
Postcard

Colour postcard of The Little Marchioness

undated

Joseph Clayton Clark (a.k.a. Kyd)
(1856-1937)

F175825

 

Postcard

Colour postcard of Quilp

undated

Joseph Clayton Clark (a.k.a. Kyd)
(1856-1937)
F175826
Postcard

Colour postcard of Quilp

undated

Joseph Clayton Clark (a.k.a. Kyd)
(1856-1937)
F175827
Book

The Old Curiosity Shop : limited edition

(Hodder & Stoughton, 1913)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

Frank Reynolds
(1876-1953)

F165614
Programme

The Old Curiosity Shop

(performed at Conway Hall, London, on
10 December 1948)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

Jane Bacon

John Greaves

F174842
Programme

The Peep-Show [including a scene which features a selection of Dickens' characters]

(performed at the London Hippodrome, undated)

Lauri Wylie
(fl. 1920s)
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