About this Item
Quantity Available: 1
Title: Barretts of Wimpole Street
Publisher: Little Brown & Co (T), U.S.A.
Publication Date: 1930
Book Condition: Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: Fine
About this title
Rudolf Wilhelm Besier was born in Blitar, East Java, in the Dutch East Indies,on July 2nd, 1878. His father, the Dutch soldier Rudolf Wilhelm Besier, died whilst his mother, Margaret Ann Collinson, was pregnant with him. He was given his father’s name in respect and remembrance. As a playwright his early career, which began with The Virgin Goddess in 1906, was somewhat limited. In 1912 he worked with HG Wells to turn Kipps into a stage play and after the war with Hugh Walpole on Robin’s Father. Other plays were produced but received little attention. His great success came only in 1930. The Barretts of Wimpole Street was based on Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning's courtship. It was rejected by two London producers but did get to premiere at the Malvern Festival of 1930, produced by Sir Barry Jackson. (The first Malvern Drama Festival took place in 1929 dedicated to Bernard Shaw, six Shaw plays have debuted at Malvern including the 1929 English première of The Apple Cart, and the world première of Geneva in 1938). Alas, American producers were not at all interested. Twenty seven were approached and 27 rejected it. The actress Katharine Cornell however staged at the Hanna Theatre in Cleveland in 1931, and then New York where it opened on February 9th, 1931 at the Empire Theatre, starring Katharine Cornell and Brian Aherne. The Barretts of Wimpole Street became a major theatrical success and was turned, in 1934, into a glossy MGM film, starring Fredric March, Norma Shearer and Charles Laughton. The play was later used as the basis for a 1964 musical Robert and Elizabeth. Rudolf Besier died in Surrey on June 16th, 1942, at the age of 63.
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