L'homme au Masque de Fer

Jump to navigation Jump to search

L'homme au Masque de Fer ("The Man in the Iron Mask") refers to a true story about a prisoner in France, as well as various fictional versions of the tale, including plays and films.

The original story

The intriguing true story of an unidentified prisoner who was held in a number of French prisons for a 34 years, from his arrest in 1668/9 to his death in 1703[] became the focus a number serious studies over the years, as well as the inspiratiuon for a number fictional versions of the tale.

Two of the most celebrated and influential fictional versions of the tale are "The Prison", a long poem by Alfred de Vigny (1797-1863), published in 1821, and part three of the novel Le Vicomte de Bragelonne (1847) by Alexander Dumas ()[].

For more on the tale of the prisoner and its cultural influence, see "The Man in the Iron Mask" in Wikipedia for example.[1]

Dramatized versions of the tale

L'homme au Masque de Fer by Fournier and Arnoult (1831)

L'homme au Masque de Fer ("The man in the iron mask"), a drama in 5 acts and in prose, by Narcisse Fournier (1803–1880) [2] and Auguste Arnouldt (1803–1854)[3]. It was first performed at the Théatre Royal de l'Odéon in Paris on 3 August, 1831 and published by J.N. Barba in the same year.

The play was probably based on De Vigny's poem "The Prison" (1821), which describes the final events in the life of the Man in the Iron Mask. The play in turn may have been the (part of) the inspiration for Alexandre Dumas's novel.

The Man with the Iron Mask, or The Royal Twins by W.J. Lucas (1832)

A play called The Man with the Iron Mask, or The Royal Twins, was an English adaptation of the French version of Fournier and Arnoult, nd was first performed in English at the Royal Pavilion Theatre, London, on 30 January, 1832, with the title The Man with the Iron Mask, or The Royal Twins (no author named).

When the text was published by T.H. Lacy as The Man with the Iron Mask: in Four Epochs in 1850 (and Samuel French, 1864), it was ascribed to W.J. Lucas ()[] and carried the description: "Each epoch containing a distinct and thrilling phase in this most extraordinary man's life, until his murder in the Bastile [sic], sternly corroborated by facts and documents seized during its demolition by the infuriated people."

The translation is also simply referred to as The Man with the Iron Mask (or in some cases The Man in the Iron Mask) by various sources.

Die Eiserne Larve by Heinrich Szchokke (1808)

A German version of the basic tale, Die Eiserne Larve ("The iron mask"), was written by Heinrich Szchokke (1771-1848)[4] in 1808.

The Man with the Iron Mask by Frank J Morlock (2001)

Another English translation of the of Fournier and Arnoult play was done by Frank J Morlock ()[]. and published in Natick, MA by Rogue Publishers in 2001.

Performance history of plays by this name in South Africa

1877: Performed as The Man with the Iron Mask (and ascribed to Lucas) in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, by Disney Roebuck's company on 15 December, with Black-Eyed Susan (Jerrold).


Facsimile version of the French text of 1831, Google E-book[5]

Facsimile version of the French text by Barba of 1831, Google E-book[6]





Transcript version of the Thomas Hailes Lacy text, The Victorian Plays Project[7]



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

William Groom. 1899-1900. Drama in Cape Town. Cape Illustrated Magazine, 10(4): 478-481, 517-520, 547-552, 580-584, 640-643, 670-672, 706-708.

Go to to ESAT Bibliography

Return to

Return to PLAYS I: Original SA plays

Return to PLAYS II: Foreign plays

Return to PLAYS III: Collections

Return to PLAYS IV: Pageants and public performances

Return to South African Festivals and Competitions

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page