The Bells The Bells The Bells
[IRVING, Henry] [TERRY, Ellen] [STOKER, Bram]

The Bells

London: N.p., 1885

Single folded sheet, 215 x 165mm, printed in red. Some loss to top edge of rear leaf, not affecting text.

Programme for a performance of The Bells, starring Henry Irving, given at the Lyceum Theatre, London, on 20 July 1885. The rear page of the programme carries an advertisement for the production of Olivia being staged the following Saturday, with Ellen Terry in the title role.

The Bells, adapted by Leopold Lewis from Erckmann-Chatrian's play Le Juif Polonais, was the making of Henry Irving the actor, but it also precipitated the end of his marriage.

'Cheaply mounted, but rigorously rehearsed by Irving, The Bells first appeared on the night of Saturday 25 November 1871 before a small audience. During the following week London critics united to declare that they had seen a great actor. [...] As they drove home in their brougham, after the triumphant first night, Irving said to his wife, 'Well, my dear, we shall soon have our own carriage and pair.' Her response was, 'Are you going to go on making a fool of yourself like this all your life?' Irving called to the driver to stop. He got out of the carriage and never returned to his home or spoke to his wife again.' (DNB)

The play was staged regularly thereafter; this programme was issued during its 1885 revival.

The Acting Manager of the Lyceum under Irving at this time -- name-checked in this programme -- was Bram Stoker. Twelve years later Stoker would write Dracula, but he worked with Irving as his Personal Assistant and Front of House Manager from 1876 until Irving's death in 1905. His two-volume Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving was published the following year.

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