Master and Man

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Master and Man is a play in four acts by George R. Sims (1847-1922)[1] and Henry Pettitt (1848-1893)[2].

Not to be confused with any English stage versions of "Master and Man", the short story by Leo Tolstoy (1895) or The Married Bachelor, or Master and Man, a one-act farce by P.P. O'Callaghan (1821).

The play is sometimes attributed to "Henry Pettitt and George R. Sims", or even to G.R. Sims alone. In typical Victorian melodrama style, the title is at times billed as Master and Man!. On at least one occasion it also appears as Master and the Man in the sources.

The original text

First performed at the Prince of Wales's Theatre, Birmingham, on 18 March 1889 and 1890 – 1891, at Prince’s Theatre, Bristol in 1890-1891[3]. It also played on Broadway in 1890, where it apparently lasted for less than two weeks, and a performance of the play by Bland Holt and his company opened in Abbot's Opera House Auckland, New Zealand, on 23 November 1891[4].

Translations and adaptations

A number of films were made of the play, including silent British film adaptations in 1915 (directed by Percy Nash) and 1929 (directed by George A. Cooper), and a sound film in 1934 (directed by John Harlow).

Performance history in South Africa

1897: Performed as Master and Man by the Leonard Rayne and his first South African touring company, inter alia appearing in the Opera House, Cape Town, in July.


Rachael Low. The History of British Film (Volume 3). Routledge: The History of the British ..., Volume 3 edited by

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.203-205

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