Nance Oldfield

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Nance Oldfield is a one-act play by "M.A." (Mildred Aldrich, 1853-1928).

The original text

Originally adapted from Fournier as a short story called "Art: a dramatic tale" by Charles Reade (1814-1884)[], and published in Bentley's Miscellany (December 1853). telling about a fictional incident in the real-life actress 18th century actress Anne Oldfield and a young poet who fall in love with her.

In 1855 Reade adapted it as a one act play called simply Art Based on the story "Art: a dramatic tale" by Charles Reade (1814-1884)[],

Later revived as An Actress of Daylight for the actress Mrs John Wood, and again in 1883 for Geneviève Ward in 1883. The production was a failure at the time, but the play would become a standard work in Ward's repertoire.

In 1891 Ellen Terry purchased the rights to Reade's play.

The play is often accredited to Charles Reade though, rather than Aldrich, particularly so by Terry, who played in numerous times.

Published in the series Baker's edition of plays by W. H. Baker & co., Boston, in 1894, in this case clearly crediting "M.A." as the author, and stating that it had been "arranged from Charles Reade's story".

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1891-2: Performed by the Geneviève Ward Company during a nine months' tour of South Africa, under the auspices of Luscombe Searelle, featuring Geneviève Ward and W.H. Vernon in the leading roles.


Facsimile version of the 1894 edition of the text by Baker, Hathi Trust Digital Library[1]

Jeffrey Richards. 2007. Sir Henry Irving: A Victorian Actor and His World A&C Black:p.53[2] By

Allardyce Nicoll. 1975. A History of English Drama 1660-1900 (Volume 5, Late Nineteenth Century) Cambridge University Press:p.396 [3]

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.203-205

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