Elizabeth, or The Invisible Armada

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Elizabeth, or The Invisible Armada is a burlesque F. C. Burnand (Francis Cowley Burnand, 1836–1917)[1].

Some sources give the name of the play as either E---LIZabeth, or The Don, The Duck, The Drake and The Invisible Armada or E-liz-abeth, or The Don, The Duck, The Drake and The Invisible Armada

Not to be confused with the plays called Elizabeth I (Foster) or Elizabeth: Almost by Chance a Woman (Dario Fo).

The original text

According to the author, it was inspired by Sheridan's satiric account of "Puff's tragedy of The Spanish Armada" in The Critic (1779), some scenes from Tom Taylor's 'Twixt Axe and Crown (1870), and one scene vaguely referred to as from either an Italian play Elizabetta, or something called The Grande Duchess, but is "otherwise entirely original".

Burnand's play was first performed at the Vaudeville Theatre, London, on 17 November, 1870 and published in London by Tinsley Brothers in the same year.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1901: Performed in the Good Hope Theatre, Cape Town, in September, under the management of the Wheeler Brothers, and featuring the "young American tragedienne" Nance O'Neill.

1902: Repeated in the Good Hope Theatre, Cape Town, in February, again featuring Nance O'Neill.


Facsimile version of the 1870 published text, Hathi Trust Digital Library[2]

Allardyce Nicoll. 2009. History of English Drama, 1660-1900, Volume 5, Part 2. Camdridge University Press, p. 289[3]


John Scotney. 1988. Puff's "Spanish Armada": A Producer's Viewpoint. RSA Journal Vol. 136, No. 5386 (September 1988), pp. 745-748[4]

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: p. 410.

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