[ George W. Lovell, English playwright. ] Two Autograph Letters Signed (all 'Geo W Lovell') to Benjamin Webster, both concerning the manuscript of his play 'The Wife's Secret'.

George William Lovell (1804-1878), playwright and novelist [ Benjamin Webster [ Benjamin Nottingham Webster ], English actor-manager, lessee of the London theatres the Haymarket and the Adelphi ]
Publication details: 
6 Mornington Crescent [ London ]. 'Thursday Morning' and 'Friday Eveng' [neither with date, but both circa 1846].
SKU: 17261

Both items in good condition, on aged paper. Lovell begins the first letter (3pp., 12mo) by expressing disappointment at not having heard from Webster yet 'with the M.S.', and offers to 'save [him] any trouble in explanations' by calling on him. If that is not acceptable he asks him to 'let me have the copy with your notes upon it & I will work at once. And if you have any thing more agreeable in the way of criticism to communicate it will put me in better spirits'. In a postscript he asks: 'What do you think of The Bonds of Wedlock or Marriage Bonds - for a title?' In the second letter (2pp., 12mo) he states that it has been suggested to him that 'the Botanical Gardens would be better than Kensington - & would furnish a very beautiful scene.' (In the event one scene was staged in the 'Garden of Sir Walter Amyott's house.') He is sending the suggestion immediately, 'in case you should like it and the scenes should be in hand'. I has a further 'two or three little strengthenings of particular points' in his mind. According to the Oxford DNB, 'The first production of Lovell's most famous play, The Wife's Secret, took place at the Park Theatre, New York, on 12 October 1846, and proved to be a success with American audiences. The work was staged at the Haymarket, London, on 17 January 1848, and ran thirty-six nights with Mr and Mrs Charles Kean in the lead roles. According to Wilbur Dunkel, Charles Kean paid Lovell £300 for the piece and then gave the author an extra £100 when the play was performed in London. The work became popular and there were notable revivals staged in October 1850, at the Princess's Theatre, and in February 1861, at Drury Lane with the Keans again taking the lead roles. Later productions took place at the Surrey in November 1868, the Olympic in March 1877, and at the St James's in April 1888. This final revival was produced by John Hare with Lewis Waller and Mr and Mrs W. H. Kendal taking the leads. Regarding the original London production, The Times said:"the Wife's Secret is a plain story effectively told, with the advantage that the ruling sentiment, though often treated before, is one that is sure to appeal to a large portion of an audience. And it may be laid down as a fixed maxim, that he who can tell a story well upon the stage has accomplished nine-tenths of his work as a practical dramatist." (The Times, 18 Jan 1848) The noted theatre historian Allardyce Nicoll stated that The Wife's Secret was 'certainly one of the best plays I have read in this period'."