The Collected letters of Sir Arthur Pinero


Arthur Wing Pinero
J.P. Wearing, editor

Sir Arthur Pinero’s letters, in the collection published in this volume, present a vivid, behind-the-scenes look at the theater in England in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Sir Arthur was one of the most important and influential playwrights of the English stage during his lifetime. These letters, 337 in number, most of which have not been published before, span a period of sixty years, from 1873, when Pinero began his career as an actor at the age of eighteen, to 1933, the year before his death.

Pinero was totally absorbed with the theater, and his correspondence provides a record of his ideas about his own work and the contemporary theatrical climate. From his earlier years he gives us impressions of the famous actors and actresses of the period - Henry Irving, Ellen Terry, and the Bancrofts, who were his favorites - and he later acted with them, too.

The letters trace well the growth of Pinero’s work as a dramatist, and are especially valuable because he wrote little publicly on dramatic theory in general or on his own work in particular. They reveal a dramatist who knew exactly what he wanted in the theater and how he felt it ought to be realized on the stage. He devoted much time and discussion to the careful choosing of a cast and other aspects of production. The letters tell, with as well as reporting on the critical and public reception of his plays. The correspondence also demonstrates his involvement with the development of the native English drama in its own right, and includes forthright comments on Ibsen and on continental drama generally.

Many of the letters are addressed to such notables as Henry James, Edmund Gosse, George Bernard Shaw, Henry Irving, and Sir George Alexander, all major theatrical figures at the turn of the century.

J.P. Wearing was born in 1945 in Birmingham, England. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wales in 1971 and came to the United States in 1974. He became a professor at the University of Arizona at that time and continued to teach there for 25 years.

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