Une cause célèbre

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There are a number of dramatic works using this title:

(Not including the English play Cause Célèbre (1975) by Terence Rattigan.)

Une cause célèbre (1877) by Adolphe d'Ennery and Eugene Cormon

Une cause célèbre is a melodrama in six parts ("Drame en six parties") by Adolphe Phillipe d'Ennery (1811-1899)[1] and Eugène Cormon (1811-1903)[2]

The original text

The tale of a French soldier wrongfully sentenced to the galleys for the murder of his wife, the play was first performed in Paris at the Théâtre de l'Ambigu-Comique on 4 December 1877 (reviewed by Emile Zola on the 10th)[3] thereafter opening at the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin on 27 December.

The play was not that much of a success apparently and the earliest and most readily found version of the text is a short prose summary ("Compte-rendu") by Gustave Desgranges, published in 1878 (Beziers, Imprimerie du commerce de P. Rivière).

A version of the full text was published by C. Levy in 1900.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into English as Proof, or A Celebrated Case (also found simply as either Proof or A Celebrated Case) by F.C. Burnand (1836-1917)[4]. The English version has variously been described as a drama in a prologue and two acts, a drama in six acts (after the original French text) and a drama in a prologue and three acts. The English play was first produced in English at the Adelphi Theatre, London, in 1878 and in New York at the Union Square Theatre from January 23 to May 11, 1878.

Published by Samuel French, [1878?])

Was the basic text for A Celebrated Case, a lost American silent film by the Kalem Co. (distributed by the General Film. Co.), starring Alice Joyce, Guy Coombs and Marguerite Courtot.

Performance history in South Africa

1884-5: Performed by the Henry Harper Company in the new Theatre Royal, Cape Town, as part of Henry Harper's first season as lessee and manager of the venue.


Facsimile version of the cover page of the prose retelling by Desgranges[5]

Henri Mitterand and Halina Suwala.1968. Émile Zola, journaliste: bibliographie chronologie et analytique (Volume 1). Presses Université Franche-Comté:p. 111[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 1923. (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.325

Go to ESAT Bibliography

Une cause célèbre, ou l'Héritier de Manchester by Lurieu Gabriel ()

Une cause célèbre, ou l'Héritier de Manchester, drame en 3 actes, par Lurieu Gabriel [en collaboration avec Théaulon]. [Paris, Gaîté, 25 mai 1837.] Date de l'édition originale : 1837