The Manxman

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The Manxman is a play in five acts by Wilson Barrett (1846-1904)[1]

The original text

The play is the first dramatization of The Manxman, the popular novel by Hall Caine (1853-1931)[2], which first appeared as a serial in The Queen, The Lady's Newspaper and Court Chronicle between January and July 1894. It was then published as one volume in August 1894 by Heinemann.

Wilson Barrett's dramatization was first performed in the Grand Theatre, Leeds, on 22 August 1894, shortly after the publication of the book and then went on a regional tour, before opening in the Shaftesbury Theatre in London. Poorly received it only last 13 performances in London.

It played at the American Theatre, New York from 26 November to December of 1894)

On 5 March 1898 Wilson Barrett and Maud Jeffries took their London company to Australia, opening in Her Majesty's Theatre, Sydney.

Translations and adaptations of Barrett's play

Other translations and adaptations of Caine's novel

Two other dramatizations of the original novel were done later:

Having discussed it with George Bernard Shaw, Caine and Louis N. Parker wrote a new four act version, called Pete. Performed by Parker and his wife, it became a popular success. The text published by Collier, London, in 1908.

In Australia Maud Williamson also dramatized the novel, calling it A Woman's Sin.

Performance history in South Africa

1902: Performed by as The Manxman by Wilson Barrett and his company, on a visit to South Africa, as their opening piece of a short season in the Good Hope Theatre, Cape Town, under the auspices of the Wheeler Brothers in August. D.C. Boonzaier described the performance by the famed tragedian as disappointing and the actor "feeble" and "tottering", and "struggling painfully to realise the strong, robust and manly hero of Mr Hall Caine's imagination" (cited in Bosman, 1980: p.411).


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. 411

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