Plays by Henry Arthur Jones
Henry Arthur Jones was among the most prominent British dramatists of his day. A contemporary of Pinero, Wilde and Shaw, he did his best to elevate drama to the level of literature whilst constructing plays that were also successful in the commercial theatre. Though some of his contemporaries considered him cynical and daring, he strove to confront major issues without offending accepted social and dramatic conventions. This volume contains three of Jones's ninety-odd plays, representing the best of his work in different styles: melodrama and society drama. The Silver King (1882), the story of a man, falsely accused of murder, was Jones's first great success. It is one of the best melodramas ever written, and won high praise from Matthew Arnold for its literary merit and convincing characterisation. Jones's interest in the 'New Woman' of the 1890s is expressed in the lively dialogue of The Case of Rebellious Susan (1894), whose heroine is advised to renounce her new lover and return to her faithless husband - scarely a radical conclusion, but sympathetically handled. The Liars (1897) is a fine comedy of manners which again considers the question of marriage and the role of women in society. Dr Jackson's full introduction places Jones in the context of late Victorian society and theatre and describes his other literary activities - the published letters and essays on drama - as well as discussing some of the plays not included here. The volume is illustrated by contemporary production prints.
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Page 17 - There is an immense future for women as wives and mothers, and a very limited future for them in any other capacity. While you ladies without passions — or with distorted and defeated passions — are raving and trumpeting all over the country, that wise, grim, old grandmother of us all, Dame Nature, is simply laughing up her sleeve and snapping her fingers at you and your new epochs and new movements.
Page 15 - I stand as bewildered to-day as ever at finding an author, a clean living, clear-minded man, hoping to extract laughter from an audience on the score of a woman's impurity. I can realise the picture of a bad woman and her natural and desirable end being portrayed, but that amusement pure and simple should be expected from the sacrifice of that one indispensable quality in respect for womanhood astounds me.