The Sorrows of Satan

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The Sorrows of Satan can refer to any one of a large number of plays based on the popular novel of the same by Marie Corelli (1855–1924)[1].

The novel is named also known as The Sorrows of Satan; or, The Strange Experiences of One Geoffrey Tempest, Millionaire.

The novel

Wikipedia[2] says of the novel that it "is an 1895 Faustian novel by Marie Corelli....widely regarded as one of the world's first best-sellers". Though it was strongly condemned by most contemporary literary critics for Corelli's it also found strong support and it "is increasingly regarded as an influential fin de siècle text".

Interestingly - if somewhat melodramatically - based on the Faust legend, the plot concerns the story of "Geoffrey Tempest" - a penniless and starving author - and his relationship with the earthly incarnation of the Devil, in the guise of the guide and mentor "Lucio". Ultimately, Geoffrey comprehends the situation and renounces the Devil, saving his soul though losing all the wealth he had acquired through the relationship.

The book was first published in England by Grosset Dunlap Press in 1895 and by Bernhard Tauchnitz, Leipzig in 1896. The sixty-eighth edition of the Grosset Dunlap edition appeared in 1936.

The adaptations

The immensely popular novel has been dramatized a number of times by a wide range of authors, particularly in the years 1896-1899 (see the list provided by H. Philip Bolton, 1999).

Among the stage productions listed under the title The Sorrows of Satan are versions by HH. Woodgate and P.M. Berton (Ladbroke Hall, London, September 1896; Shaftsbury Theatre, London, 9 January, 1897); Maurice H. Hoffman (Theatre Royal at South Shields, December 31, 1897); C.W. Somerset and Brian Daly (the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith on December 31, 1897); Henry S. Dacre (Britannia, Hoxton, London on 5 December, 1898); S. Creagh Henry (the Broadway Theatre, New York, on December 24, 1898). There are also numerous performances where the adaptor/author is unknown or not mentioned.

Later versions include Luke Bateman and Michael Conley's Off West End musical version in 2017[3]

The novel and/or play has also been adapted under such alternative titles as The Prince of Darkness (by S. Creagh Henry at Plymouth on 14 December, 1896); Satan: or, The Sorrows of Margaret Forster (Anon, Elephant & Castle, London 5 March, 1897);

Films based upon the book include Leaves from Satan's Book (1921) and The Sorrows of Satan (directed by D.W. Griffith, 1926).

South African productions

1913: Performed as The Sorrows of Satan in the Palladium Theatre, Johannesburg by the Hoffman-King Company, with a cast including Hilda Attenboro. There is no indication which dramatized version was used.


Facsimile version of The Sorrows of Satan, Project Gutenberg, EBook-No.42332 , Release date: 14 March 2013[4]

H. Philip Bolton. 1999. Women Writers Dramatized: A Calendar of Performances from Narrative Works, Bloomsbury Publishing: p.116ff[5]

New Zealand Herald, 16 October 1915

NZ Truth, 7 October 1916

Rand Daily Mail, 10 June 1919

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