The Light that Failed

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The Light that Failed is the name of two plays, both based on Kipling's 1891 novel.

a play by C. Thorpe ()[]

The original text

Based on the novel by Rudyard Kipling ()[], first published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine from January 1891, and later published in four different versions. Largely set in London, with some important scenes in in Sudan and Port Said, the novel tells of the unrequited love of Dick Heldar, a painter who goes blind, for Maisie.

Translations and adaptations

George Fleming did a stage adaptation of the novel that was first staged in the West End from February to April 1903, before it appeared on Broadway in November.

The novel was also filmed three times, as a silent film by Pathé (1916) and by Famous Players-Lasky (1923), and as a sound film by Paramount in 1939, starring Ronald Colman and Walter Huston.

Performance history in South Africa

1904: Performed as part of a repertoire of three plays by Mrs and Mr Robert Brough and their company, under the Wheeler Company management. They appeared in the Good Hope Theatre, Cape Town, from 26 February onwards. According to D.C. Boonzaier (1923) the play was as "as dull as the book from which it was taken".


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: p.419

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