Little Lord Fauntleroy

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Little Lord Fauntleroy is the name of two plays, both based on the 19th century novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924)[1]

The novel

Little Lord Fauntleroy is a famous novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett ()[]. First published as a serial in St. Nicholas Magazine from November 1885 to October 1886, it was published in book form by Scribner's in 1886.

Besides a number of unidentified stage adaptations shortly after the novel's appearance, and the two acknowledged versions by E.V. Seebohm and by Burnett herself (discussed below), numerous film and TV adaptations have also been made of the novel over the years. (See

The plays

Little Lord Fauntleroy, a comedy by E. V. Seebohm (1888)

The original text

The play was initially adapted for the stage as a play in three acts by E.V. Seebohm ()[] and forst performed at the Prince of Wales Theatre, London, on 23 February, 1888. .

When Burnett found out about Beerbohm's version, she sued the author for plagiarism in 1888 and won the case. This decision would become a landmark event in copyright law.[2]

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1893(?): The Seebohm text was performed in the Vaudeville Theatre, Cape Town, by a the Wheeler Theatre Company as part of a short season that also included Niobe, Dandy Dick and L'Enfant Prodigue. The production had Augustus Wheatman in the role of "the Earl".

Little Lord Fauntleroy, a play by Frances Hodgson Burnet (1888)

The original text

Having won her case agains Seebohm, Burnett adapted the novel for the stage herself and her version then premiered at Terry's Theatre, London, on 14 May 14, 1888, going on to play in the English provinces, France, Boston and New York City. The New York production opened in the Broadway Theatre, on 10 December, 1888.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1902-4: Burnett's own version was performed by the Leonard Rayne and his company, opening at the Theatre Royal, Durban, in 1902 and became a part of their repertoire as they toured of the major cities of South Africa, including Johannesburg, Kimberley Port Elizabeth and Cape Town over the next two years. Jointly directed by Charles Howitt and Leonard Rayne (who did the final polishing), with Freda Godfrey as "Lord Fauntleroy", the production would become one of the company's big successes of the season and a triumph for the twelve year old Freda Godfrey.


D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1932. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.431-2

Margot Bryant. 1979. Born To Act: The Story of Freda Godfrey. Johannesburg: Ad Donker: pp. 53-7.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

Return to

Return to PLAYS I: Original SA plays

Return to PLAYS II: Foreign plays

Return to PLAYS III: Collections

Return to PLAYS IV: Pageants and public performances

Return to South African Festivals and Competitions

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page