The Castle Spectre

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The Castle Spectre is a play in five acts by Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775 –1818)[1].

Also found with the title The Castle Spectre, or The Ghost of Evelina.

The original text

Apparently based on a previous attempt at a gothic story by the author, inspired by Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, it was reworked into a play in 1796 and first performed at the Theatre-Royal, Drury-Lane, on Thursday, December 14, 1797.

Despite manifold obvious weaknesses the play was a popular success and according to Bertrand Evans (1947, pp 143-44), with its appearance "...Gothic drama assumed a popular position not below that of the Gothic novel. Besides having a very long and eminently successful first run, this concoction went through seven printed editions in 1798 and eleven by 1803." It was apparently still popular in 1829.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1816: First performed in the Cape Town Theatre, Cape Town by the English Theatricals on 20 January, 1816, in support of the Waterloo Fund. With The Village Lawyer (Macready) as afterpiece. Repeated on 3 February, 1816 and played once more on 17 August, 1816.

1824: Performed in the Cape Town Theatre, Cape Town by the English Theatricals on 27 November 1824, with The Poor Soldier (O'Keeffe) as afterpiece.

1830: Performed in the Cape Town Theatre, Cape Town by All the World's a Stage under the leadership of Mr H. Booth on 6 March 1830, with The Lying Valet (Garrick) as afterpiece.

1832: Performed in the Cape Town Theatre, Cape Town by the British Amateur Company (under the motto All the World's a Stage) on 12 November 1832, with The Scape-goat (Poole) as afterpiece.

1838: It was apparently performed in Grahamstown as The Castle Spectre, or The Ghost of Evelina in this year by the Grahamstown Amateur Company, performing under the motto Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense (Though there is some difference of opinion between F.C.L. Bosman and P.W. Laidler on whether it was not perhaps a performance in Cape Town - see Bosman, 1928: pp. 388-9).

1847: Performed twice in the Dutch Theatre, Cape Town by the company called English Private Theatricals (or the Private Amateur Company), the second time on 6 November as their last performance of the season, with Comfortable Lodgings, or Paris in 1750 (Peake) as an afterpiece.

1862: A scene from The Castle Spectre performed in the Eastern Cape village of Keiskama Hoek's Garrison Theatre by the North Lincolnshire Regiment of Foot on June 3, with a cast that included . Also performed was as The Irish Tutor (Lewis) followed by a scene from The Indians of the Far West ().


Bertrand Evans, Gothic Drama from Walpole to Shelley, University of California Publications in English vol. 18, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1947; pp.143-44.[2]

Text of the play in the Victorian Plays Project[3]

F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [4]: pp. 148-9, 199, 212, 224, 389 and 417.

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