Nance Oldfield

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by Narcisse Fournier (1803-1880)[1]

The original text

Originally adapted from Narcisse Fournier (1803-1880)[2] 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 as Nance Oldfield in 1883 for the actress Geneviève Ward in 1883. The first production was a failure at the time, but the play would become a standard work in Ward's repertoire over the years.

In 1891 Ellen Terry purchased the rights to Reade's play, performing the leading role numerous times under the title Nance Oldfield.

In 1894 W. H. Baker & co., Boston, published the text of a one-act play called Nance Oldfield credited to "M.A." (Mildred Aldrich, 1853-1928), in the series Baker's edition of plays. The text clearly credits "M.A." as the author, but states 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.


"Anne Oldfield" in Wikipedia[3]

Facsimile version of the 1894 edition of the text by Baker, Hathi Trust Digital Library[4]

Jeffrey Richards. 2007. Sir Henry Irving: A Victorian Actor and His World A&C Black:p.53[5] By

Allardyce Nicoll. 1975. A History of English Drama 1660-1900 (Volume 5, Late Nineteenth Century) Cambridge University Press:p.396 [6]

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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