www.francisboutle.co.uk/     Call Us:  +44 7772 312 665    Email Us:  info@francisboutle.co.uk

Quick Find:    
Book list
Art, architecture & media
Biography
Cornish/Kernewek
D.M. Thomas
Fire and police
First World War
Genealogy
History
Lesser used languages of Europe
Literary criticism
Music
Painting and its laws
Pioneering women
Plays
Poets
Politics
Revolutionary history
Traditions and customs
Travel
Extras
Awards
Downloads
Events
Excerpts
Forthcoming books
Lesser Used Languages of Europe
Out of print
Reviews
Webzine
Contact Us
Follow us
Twitter Logo

Facebook Logo
  Top » Catalog » Pages » Reviews
Wilkie Collins, The Lighthouse, A Drama in Two Acts

Click here for more information about this book

Michael Slater, biographer of Dickens, reviews The Lighthouse by Wilkie Collins for The Dickensian

Dickensians will be happy to have a published version of this notable forerunner of The Frozen Deep.

Collins’s The Lighthouse is a two-act melodrama in the performance of which audiences were electrified by what Carlyle called Dickens’s ‘wild picturesqueness’ in the role of the guilt-haunted lighthouse keeper, Aaron Gurnock, in three private performances at Tavistock House and  a public one for charity at Campden House. The text for this edition is based upon a careful collation of the four surviving manuscripts, including Collins’s own which is in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The Prologue and an introduced song ‘The Song of the Wreck’ , were both from Dickens’s pen.

The editors provide a most interesting and informative account of the writing of the drama which they see as anticipating the ‘psychological drama’ as manifested in Lewis’s The Bells by sixteen years. They trace its stage history both in London and Paris where it was produced as Le Phare in 1864 with a specially written preface by Wilkie Collins, a translation of which is included in this volume. The editors supply also a wealth of other relevant material, including several illustrations (one a head-and-shoulders portrait of Dickens looking remarkably sinister which I have never seen before) and a number of newspaper reviews of the Campden House performance as well as subsequent professional productions both in London and New York.

Reviews of the Campden House production were unanimous in the very high praise they bestowed on Dickens’s performance.’The part is melodramatic’, said the Daily News critic, ‘but Dickens’s melodrama is void of extravagance: it is a display of passion carried to the utmost intensity, but without overstepping for a moment the modesty of nature’. The Times gave the production a lengthy review and described Dickens’s Aaron, ‘a rough, rugged son of Cornwall’, as ‘a great individual creation of a kind that has not been exhibited before’.

The Editors are to be congratulated on the remarkable thoroughness of their account of the performance history of Collins’s play. I noticed one small omission in that there is no mention of an amateur production staged by members of the Dickens Fellowship in April 1950, using an edited edition version of Collins’s manuscript, Dickens’s prologue being spoken by Frank Pettingell, a  leading British actor of the day. Dickens’s part was impressively played by John Greaves, later Honorary General Secretary of the Fellowship and celebrated for his wonderful Dickens readings, and the part of Lady Grace, at whose presumed murder Aaron wrongly believeds himself to have connived, was played by Dickens’s grand-daughter Elaine Waley. The play, according to The Dickensian,  ‘proved to be most moving in performance’.

It would be good if this fine edition were to inspire another modern production.

Best Sellers
01.From Bow to Biennale
02.Shout Kernow
03.Cornwalls First Golden Age
04.Baggage
05.Grains of Gold
06.Surfing Tommies
07.The Way Back
08.Scoot Dances
09.Star in a Night Sky
10.Celebrating Pevsner
Forthcoming Books
Featured Books
Events
Regular Cornish language classes with Mick Paynter.

London. The Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Gallery permanent exhibition of women in medicine.

First Sunday of every month, Redruth. Shout with the Red River singers.

until 27 May 2017, Camden, London. An exhibition of the works of Lancelot Ribeiro.

12 May 2017, Redruth. Launch of Celebrating Pevsner New research on Cornish architecture.

20 May 2017, St Ives. Towl Ros/Cast Net! Interpretations in words and music of the St Ives fishing industry.

1 June 2017, Redruth. Book launch and poetry reading in Georgian and English Ten Georgian Women Poets with Vicky Field and Nata Bukia Peters

14 June 2017, National Army Museum, London. Feminism Late - with a talk by Elizabeth Crawford: Did the First World War win women the vote?

18 June 2017, St Just in Penwith. Gorsedh Kernow Solempnita AWEN/AWEN ceremony at Carn Gloose/Ballowall Barrow.

6 October 2017, Aldeburgh. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Commemoration Weekend with talks, a play, music and the unveiling of a plaque.