The Cousins

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The Cousins is a play attributed to James Sheridan Knowles (1784-1862)[1]

The original text

No mention of a Knowles play by this name has been found anywhere, except in F.C.L. Bosman's 1980 history of South African theatre, where it is referred to as "Reminiscenses of Sheridan Knowles' ''The Cousins''".

It was probably, given the phrasing, a performance of a selected scene from one of Knowles' plays - he was fond of using cousins as characters. A good candidate would have been the comic scene from Knowles' best known play, The Hunchback, in which "Helen" teaches her cousin and lover "Modus" how to woo, for it could very well have been played as a short free-standing interlude.

There are a few other , more far fetched, possibilities as well. For example in the British Museum there is the manuscript of an 18th century comic opera in two acts, by anonymous author, called The Cousins, or Love and Fear[2], while The Cousins, or A Woman's Promise and a Lover's Vow[3], a novel in 3 volumes by "Mrs. Ross" (), appeared in 18**. The Cousins may of course have been adaptations (by Knowles, or wrongly attributed to him) of either one of these texts.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1871: According to Bosman (1980), a piece listed as "Reminiscences of Sheridan Knowles' The Cousins") was performed four times by the D'Arcy Read Company in the Mutual Hall, Cape Town (on 9, 11, 16 and 23 October), with The Ring and the Keeper (Wooler) and Belgravia, or Servantgolism (Anon.)


F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.250-251

Order of the Trustees. 1877. Catalogue of additions to the manuscripts in the British Museum in the year mdcccliv-mdccclxxv (1861-1875), Oxford University[4]

Facsimile version of The Cousins, Or, A Woman's Promise and a Lover's Vow by "Mrs Ross" (A.K. Newman, 1811)[5]

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