Le Bossu

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Le Bossu ("the hunchback") is a French drama in five acts and twelve tableaux by Auguste Anicet-Bourgeois (1806-1871)[1] and Paul Féval (1861-1887)[2].

The original text

The play is set in France during the early eighteenth century and tells of a prodigious swordsman, Henri de Lagardère, disguises himself as a hunchback to avenge his friend the Duke de Nevers, murdered by the villainous Prince de Gonzague.

First performed in Paris at the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin on 8 September, 1862.

Published in Paris by Michel Levy Freres in 1862

Translations and adaptations

Adapted in English as The Duke's Motto, or I Am Here!, a play in a prologue and four acts by John Brougham (1814-1880)[3] and first presented with that title at the Royal Lyceum Theatre on Saturday 10 January 1863, with Charles Fechter as leading actor. According to one review, the English version has a complicated and melodramatic plot that involves among other things a murdered duke, the rescue of his infant daughter by ‘a wild daredevil’, a villainous prince’s scheme to secure the child’s inheritance, his hunchbacked henchman, gypsies on the Spanish border, and an Irish soldier of fortune.

The English text only published by C. Whiting in 1870, now named The Duke's Motto, and referred to as "a romantic drama in three acts, and a prologue". Though credited to John Brougham, the publication has the phrase "Adapted By, and the Property Of, Charles Fechter" on the title page.

Performance history in South Africa

1875: Performed in English, as The Duke's Motto, or I'm Here (ascribed to Brougham), by Disney Roebuck and company in the Bijou Theatre, Cape Town, on 29 May.

1875: Performed as The Duke's Motto, or I'm Here by Disney Roebuck and company in the Bijou Theatre, Cape Town, on 7 June, with The Morning Call (Dance).

1878: Performed in English, as The Duke's Motto, or I'm Here (Le Bossu now acknowledged as source), by Disney Roebuck and company in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, on 3 and 7 June.

1884-5: Performed in English, as The Duke's Motto, by the Henry Harper Company in the new Theatre Royal, Cape Town, as part of Henry Harper's first season as lessee and manager of the venue.


Facsimile version of the 1862 French text, The Internet Archive[4]






David Neumeyer. 2014. The Oxford Handbook of Film Music Studies, Oxford University Press: pp. 565-6.[5]

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 1923. (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.324, 328, 336, 369, 380.

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