Special Collections & Archives

 

 

Charles Dickens Theatre Collection

The Pickwick Papers

The episodic structure of The Pickwick Papers, published serially from April 1836 to November 1837, encouraged plagiarising playwrights to adapt the work for the stage.

The Pickwick Papers revolve around the anecdotes of the 'Pickwickians' as they journey across the English countryside, often resulting in comic debacles. One of the characters in the novel, Alfred Jingle, is himself an actor, and frequently the villain of the piece. Sam Weller, a cockney taken on as a servant and companion to Pickwick, became an immense success in theatrical adaptations.

Excerpts and scenes from the overall work were frequently adapted for the stage; many productions focused upon the friendship between Pickwick and Weller. The courtroom drama between Mr Pickwick and Mrs Bardell, over an alleged breach of promise, provided another key theme for adaptations. The Pickwick Papers was one of the more frequently adapted of Dickens' novels in the nineteenth century.

The first adaptation was produced at the City of London Theatre in March 1837, months before the end of the serial run. Others were quick on the uptake; in April two more versions were unveiled at the Adelphi Theatre and the Strand Theatre. The Strand version, by William Thomas Moncrieff, lasted an impressive 80 performances, although Dickens protested against the production. Before the serialisation was complete, versions were being performed across Britain and in America.

The popularity of Pickwick lasted into the 1840s, but then declined until 1870s, when many productions of Dickens' works were staged in celebration of his life.

Special Collections Holdings

Item type Item information Author Item number
Book

The posthumous papers of the Pickwick Club. With forty-three illustrations by R. Seymour and Phiz.

(Chapman and Hall, 1837) 2 vols.

Charles Dickens

(1812-1870)

0382919

0382920

Book

Pickwickian illustrations: twenty plates

(T. McLean, 1837)

William Heath

(1795-1840)
0514939 
Playscript

Peregrinations of Pickwick: a drama, in three acts

(W. Strange, 1837)

William Leman Rede

(1802-1847)

0594709
Playbill

Sam Weller; or, the Pickwickians and Venus in Arms and The Wife

(performed at the New Strand Theatre, London, 25-30 September 1837)

William Thomas Moncrieff

(1794-1857)

0599551
Playscript

The Pickwickians; or, the peregrinations of Sam Weller: a comic drama, in three acts

(T.H. Lacy, 1837)

Thomas Hailes Lacy

(1809-1873)

0592879
Playscript

Pickwick abroad: or, the tour in France

(Dicks, 1857)

George W. M. Reynolds

(1814-1879)

F197257
Playbill

The Love Chase and Ruy Blas and The Hunchback and Little Toddlekins, with an impersonation of Sergeant Buzfuz from the trial of "Bardell v. Pickwick"

(performed at the Theatre Royal, Bristol

13-14 February 1867)

James Sheridan Knowles
(1784-1862)

Victor Hugo
(1802-1885)

Charles James Mathews
(1803-1878)

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

0592648
Playbill

Two Roses and The Trial from 'Pickwick'

(performed at the Lyceum Theatre, London, 10 December 1879)

James Albery (1838-1889)

Charles Dickens Junior

(1837-1896)

John Hollingshead

(1827-1904)
F174838
Playscript

Bardell v. Pickwick: adapted from the "Pickwick Papers" of Charles Dickens

(J. Dicks, 1880)

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

William Barrymore (?d. 1845)

0596697
0597110
Programme

Tartuffe, A Christmas Story and Aladdin the 2nd.Also advertised is a drama entitled BARDELL V. PICKWICK, an opera entitled PRINCESS OF TREBIZONDE and A GRAND CONCERT.

(performed at the Gaiety Theatre,
before 1886)

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Dion Boucicault (1820-1890)

Alfred Thompson

John Hollingshead

(1827-1904)

F174824
Programme

The Bells [The Polish Jew] and Jingle [Pickwick Papers]

(performed at the Lyceum Theatre, London, 10 May 1887)

Emile Erckmann (1822-1899)

Alexandre Chatrian (1826-1890)

Leopold Lewis

Charles Dickens

(1812-1870)

F174839
Playbill

Nicholas Nickleby and Indiana and Bardell v. Pickwick

(performed at the Avenue Theatre, London

6 June 1887)

Charles Dickens

(1812-1870)

Henry Brougham Farnie
(1836-1889)

0597392
Programme

Sweet Lavender, Editha's Burglar, Faust up to Date and Bardell v. Pickwick

(performed at the Gaiety Theatre, London,
4 March 1889)

Edwin Cleary
(fl. 1880)

Frances Hodgson Burnett
(1849-1924)

John Stewart Browne
(fl. 1880)

Charles Dickens

(1812-1870)

F174836
Playscript

Pickwick

(J. Dicks, 1890)

William Leman Rede

(1802-1847)

0594710
0594711
Playscript

Bardell v. Pickwick

(Diprose, Bateman & Co, unknown date)

Unknown 0596698
Programme

Bardell v. Pickwick and The Churchwarden

(performed at the New Theatre, Cambridge,
6 December 1900)

Charles Dickens

(1812-1870)

F174834
Programme

Two Peeps at Pickwick and Dombey and Son

(performed at the Savoy Theatre, London,
14 November 1911)

Charles Dickens

(1812-1870)

Metcalfe Wood

F174826
Book

The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club

(Hodder & Stoughton, 1912)

Charles Dickens

(1812-1870)

F075826
Postcard

Black and white postcard of an illustration of Sam Weller and the Fat Boy

(undated)

Frederic Lewin

(d.1933)

F175833
Playscript

Pickwick

(Putnam, 1927)

Cosmo Hamilton

(1870-1942)

0074774

0398732

Programme

Mr Pickwick
(performed at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket
15 December 1928)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

Cosmo Hamilton
(1870-1942)

Frank C. Reilly
F174833
Programme

Pickwick Centenary Celebrations [A Pageant of Dickens' Characters]

(performed at the Palladium, London
31 March 1936)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

George Lander

Phillip Ben Greet

Freeman Wills

Frederick Langbridge

F174818
Book

A centenary bibliography of the Pickwick Papers

(The Argonaut Press, 1936)

W. Miller F197251
Programme

Pickwick

(performed at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 28 November 1936)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

F174832
Postcard

Black and white postcard of an illustration of a scene from Pickwick Papers; "It was a pleasant thing to see Mr. Pickwick in the Centre of the Group, now pulled this way, and then that."

(undated)

Unknown F175849
Programme

Pickwick

(performed at the Northampton Repertory Theatre, 26 December 1941)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

F174831
Programme

Emlyn Williams as Charles Dickens

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

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

Emlyn Williams
(1905-1987)

F172755
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
Programme

Uncles and Aunts and Pickwick

(performed at the Royal Comedy Theatre, London, unknown)

William Lestocq
(d. 1920)

Walter Everard
(fl. 1900)

Sir Francis Cowley Burnand
(1836-1917)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

F174835
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
Programme

Pickwick

(performed at the Palladium, London,
14 November 1963)

Wolf Mankowitz
(1924-1998)
F173445
Programme

Pickwick

(performed at the Saville Theatre, London,
undated)

Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

Leslie Bricusse
(b. 1931)

Cyril Ornadel
(1924-2011)

F174830
Postcard

"The 'Charles Dickens' Series. Tony Weller. - Pickwick Papers. 'Be wery careful o' widders all your life.'"

(C. W. Faulkner and Co., undated)

  F175832

 

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Last Updated: 05/01/2018