Das Kind der Liebe

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Das Kind der Liebe (literally "The child of love") is a German play in five acts by August von Kotzebue (1761 – 1819)[1].

The original text

Written in 1790 and first performed in the Liebhabertheater in Reval in 1790, possibly under the title: Das Kind der Liebe, oder: Der Strassenräuber aus kindlicher Liebe, cited by Engels (1992). It was first published in Leipzig in 1791 by P.G. Kummer.

The play has become quite famous through an English translation by Elizabeth Inchbald, which features as Lovers' Vows in Jane Austen's novel Mansfield Park.

Translations and adaptations

Dutch: Translated into Dutch as De Onechte Zoon ("the illegitimate son") by H. Kup and published in Amsterdam by H. Gartman and co. in 1793.

F.C.L. Bosman (1928) has two versions of the Dutch title: De Onechte Zoon and Aballino, De Onechte Zoon, and for some strange reason indexing the play under the latter (incorrect) title only, even though he himself questions its veracity (p. 135). The title seems to be conflation of the Kotzebue translation and a play by Zschokke (Aballino, De Groote Bandiet). In fact neither the German not the Dutch text (De Onechte Zoon ) have any reference to a character "Aballino". So it appears to have been an error on the part of Bosman's sources, e.g. the company in question, or the journalist writing about it in the Kaapsche Courant of 7 August 1819.

English: At least four English adaptations of the play were published between 1798 and 1800, under various titles: Lovers' Vows by Elizabeth Inchbald (1798); The Natural Son by Anne Plumptre (1798); Lovers’ Vows; or, The Natural Son by Benjamin Thompson (1800); Lovers’ Vows, or The Child of Love by Stephen Porter (1798). Only Elizabeth Inchbald's version appears to have been performed in that time (Covent Garden, 1798).

Performances in South Africa

Dutch productions

1819: Copies of the texts of a play called Aballino, De Onechte Zoon (sic) and of Gustavus, of De Zweedsche Mynwerkers (Lamartélière) are requested for loan by Tot Nut en Vermaak, apparently in response to the news that Von Kotzebue had been assassinated. However, it appear no production occurred at the time. (Which seems to indicate that what they were seeking was in fact Von Kotzebue's work.)

1826: Performed in Dutch by Tot Nut en Vermaak as De Onechte Zoon on 26 August in the African Theatre, Cape Town, with Het Zal laat Worden (J.C. Meijer) as afterpiece. The author of the play is cited in its Afrikaans form, "Meyer", by F.C.L. Bosman (1928, pp.237-8).

1826: Another production of the play by Tot Nut en Vermaak was planned for early September, this time with De Gevaarlyke Buurman (Von Kotzebue) as afterpiece, but it is uncertain whether this actually took place.

1832: Performed in Dutch as De Onechte Zoon by Tot Nut en Vermaak on 4 August in De Liefhebbery Tooneel, Cape Town, with Sint Nicolaas Avond (H. Kup) as afterpiece.

1834: Performed in Dutch as De Onechte Zoon by Door Yver Vruchtbaar on 31 May in the "Liefhebbery Tooneel - Amateur Theatre", Stellenbosch, with De Spraakelooze (Von Kotzebue).

English productions

Inchbald's version seems to have been the best known, and as far as can be ascertained the only English version of Von Kotzebue's play performed in South Africa during the 19th century.

See Lovers' Vows for details on these productions


Original 1791 published text of Das Kind der Liebe, Google E-book[2]


Johann Jacob Engel. 1992. Briefwechsel aus den Jahren 1765 bis 1802 (edited by Alexander Košenina) Königshausen & Neumann: p. 268, Google E-book[3].

Facsimile version of De Onechte Zoon, Google Books[4]

Lovers'_Vows in Wikipedia[5]).

F.C.L. Bosman. 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [6]: pp.135, 237-8, 245, 254,

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