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Moths is the title of a number of 19th century plays, based on a novel by Ouida (Maria Louise Ramé, 1839-1908)[1].

Not to be confused with Moths, the 2015 Australian play by Michele Lee[2]

The original text

Moths (a novel in three volumes, Chatto and Windus 1880) was originally written as a popular novel by Ovida (Louise Ramé, 1839-1908)[], and deals with such Victorian taboos as adultery, domestic violence, and divorce. The work was the author's fifteenth novel, and possibly her most popular - though savaged by critics. The work saw numerous adaptations to the stage in the Victorian era - many done without her approval.

The first, and perhaps best known, adaptation seems to have been by Henry Hamilton (1855-1918)[3], a version that opened at the Globe Theatre London on 25 March, 1882. Another adaptation was by John C. Chute, opening in the Theatre Royal, Croydon, in 28 August of the same year. A third, probably by actress Marion Grace, opened at the Royal Opera House, London, in October. A fourth adaptation, by W.F. Lyon, opened in Peterborough on 12 February 1883 and a fifth, by A.M. Seaton, in the Rotunda, Liverpool on 18 March.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1892: Performed in the Vaudeville Theatre, Cape Town, by the visiting Emilie Bevan Comedy Company as part of a three-and-a-half month season of 20 plays which began on 8 August. It is uncertain which text was used in this case.


Introduction to "Moths" in Ouida. 2017. Delphi Collected Works of Ouida (Illustrated). Volume 26 of Delphi Series Eight, Delphi Classics[4]

T. Rebecca Kennamer. 2008. Review of Moths, by Ouida. Victorian Review, vol. 34 no. 1, 2008, p. 182-184. (Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/vcr.2008.0028.)[5]

Andrew King. 2016. Ouida and Victorian Popular Culture. Routledge.[6]

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.394-5

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