The original text
In 1798, Elizabeth Inchbald adapted Kotzebue’s play for the Theatre-Royal at Covent Garden, apparently from what she styled "a literal translation". The play opened at Covent Garden on Thursday, 11 October 1798 and ran for forty-two nights. A very successful play in its time, it is arguably best known today for having been featured in Jane Austen's novel Mansfield Park (1814).
It was in fact one of at least four English adaptations of August von Kotzebue's play, all of which were published between 1798 and 1800: 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). Elizabeth Inchbald's version appears to have been the first performed (Covent Garden, 1798) and the only English version performed in London at the time, though the other texts were also used later (e.g. Ms Plumptre's play was apparently done in New York under the title Lovers' Vows on November 22,1799).
The Inchbald version caused some controversy in 1798 because of her apparent "censorship" of the original German version, an issue reflected in the critical role the play has in the Austen novel. It is a matter still being debated today. (See for example recent articles by Bode, 2005, and Ford, 2006.)
Performances in South Africa
1811: Presented in Cape Town on 27 July by the Garrison Players in the African Theatre, with Raising the Wind (Kenney) as afterpiece. Lt Col Dennis and Lt Prescott signed themselves as "Directors" for the evening.
1818: Presented in Cape Town on 31 January by the Gentlemen Amateurs in the African Theatre, with Mr Cooke, Miss Williams and Mrs Cooke in the leading roles. The afterpiece was No Song, No Supper (Prince Hoare), again starring Mrs Cooke.
Facsimile text of Lovers' Vows (Neal & Mackenzie, 1829 edition)
Theatrical Register in The Monthly Magazine, and American Review, Volume 2 (1800): p. 143
Christoph Bode 2005. "Unfit for an English Stage? Inchbald’s Lovers' Vows and Kotzebue’s Das Kind der Liebe." European Romantic Review 16: 297-309.
Susan Allen Ford "'It is about Lovers’ Vows': Kotzebue, Inchbald, and the Players of Mansfield Park". Persuasions On-line (Vol.27, No.1 - Winter 2006)
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