The Case of Rebellious Susan by Henry Arthur Jones, 1894.


Original Production

First performed Oct. 3rd 1894 at the Criterion Theatre, London.

Sir Richard Kato, Q.C. … Charles Wyndham

Admiral Sir Joseph Darby … Henry Kemble

James Harabin … C.P. Little

Fergusson Pybus … Fred Kerr

Lucien Edensor … Ben Webster

Mr Jacomb … E. Dagnall

Synopsis

Lady Susan Harabin … Miss Mary Moore

Lady Darby … Miss Fanny Coleman

Mrs Quesnel (Inez) … Miss Gertrude Kingston

Elaine Shrimpton … Miss Nina Boucicault

Kirby … Markham

Footmen

Hotel Waiter

Lady Susan’s husband partakes in infidelity, leading to her desire to seek revenge in the same thread of distrust. She separates from him and becomes involved with a young man in Cairo. An old family friend, Sir Richard Kato, dissuades her from taking the relationship too far and leads to the reconciliation between herself and her husband. However, Lady Susan continues to reject her husband’s desires to know what she did just as he will never tell her the details of his affairs.

Interestingly, Charles Wyndham influenced how much the audience knows about Lady Susan’s affairs. Initially, Jones wanted it to be apparent that their relationship went beyond flirtation, but Wyndham “persuaded him that the imputation of unchastity would be unacceptable, insisting that it was also improper in a playwright” (Jackson, 15).

Bibliography[1]

Andes, Anna. “The Evolution of Cicely Hamilton’s Edwardian Marriage Discourse: Embracing Conversion Dramaturgy.” English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920, vol. 58, no. 4, Oct. 2015, pp. 503–522. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=102893903&site=eds-live.[2]

Courtney, W. L. Modern Social Drama as Influenced by the Novel. Gale Research, 1994.

Unknown maker, French. [Piccadilly Circus and Criterion Theatre], ~1890s. Original print 8.1 x 11 cm. Gelatin silver print. Via Getty.edu.

Unknown maker, French. [Piccadilly Circus and Criterion Theatre], ~1890s. Original print 8.1 x 11 cm. Gelatin silver print. Via Getty.edu.

Eltis, Sos. Sex Problems and Nature’s Law. Oxford University Press, 2013. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199691357.003.0005.[3]

Fisher, Judith L. “The ‘Law of the Father’: Sexual Politics in the Plays of Henry Arthur Jones and Arthur Wing Pinero.” Essays in Literature, vol. 16, no. 2, Fall 1989, pp. 203–223. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=hus&AN=509473483&site=eds-live.


Play Reviews

Sarony, Napolean.  The Case of Rebellious Susan .  [Herbert] Kelsey, [Charles] Walcot, Lyceum Theatre.  1885. Card photograph via Getty.edu

Sarony, Napolean. The Case of Rebellious Susan. [Herbert] Kelsey, [Charles] Walcot, Lyceum Theatre. 1885. Card photograph via Getty.edu

“’The Case of Rebellious Susan’ was well worth seeing. The acting of Sir Charles Wyndham and Miss Mary Moore was as fresh and charming as ever. Indeed, every character in this clever little comedy was in most capable hands.”

“’The Case of Rebellious Susan.’” The Playgoer and Society Illustrated, vol. 2, no. 11, 1910, pp. 192-193. ProQuest, https://search.proquest.com/docview/7795696?accountid=14745.

Barraud, Herbert Rose. Mary Moore (Lady Wyndham) as Ada Ingot; Sir Charles Wyndham as David Garrick in ‘David Garrick.’ 1888. Via National PortraitGallery.org.uk.  Although this photo is from the play ‘David Garrick,’ Mary Moore and Charles Wyndham play Lady Susan and Sir Richard Kato respectfully in the Oct. 3rd 1894 production of The Case of Rebellious Susan.

Barraud, Herbert Rose. Mary Moore (Lady Wyndham) as Ada Ingot; Sir Charles Wyndham as David Garrick in ‘David Garrick.’ 1888. Via National PortraitGallery.org.uk.

Although this photo is from the play ‘David Garrick,’ Mary Moore and Charles Wyndham play Lady Susan and Sir Richard Kato respectfully in the Oct. 3rd 1894 production of The Case of Rebellious Susan.

“’A respectable average case after all,’ as the charming Ms. Quesnel reminds us, is that Case of Rebellious Susan to which Mr. Henry Arthur Jones has invited the attention of Criterion audiences. It is, in fact, studiously simple and prosaie, a case of no special interest and no particular significance Nothing, of course, would persuade Mr. Jones that he ever did or ever could write anything without ‘a purpose.’ In his preface to the printed copy of this play he is careful to set forth the matrimonial moral which its witty and diverting scenes are supposed to suggest. Perhaps it would have been more prudent to have advertised this same moral upon the programme, if Mr. Jones is really anxious about its enforcement, since from the play itself, as it stands, the spectator may draw almost any sort of conjugal lesson that his fancy dietates. Those who will derive most pleasure from this clever and observant work will be the happy people who can enjoy a sparkling comedy of modern manners without hunting for moral at all […].”

"The Case of Rebellious Susan Truthful James." The National Observer, 1890-1897, vol. 12, no. 308, 1894, pp. 562-563. ProQuest, https://search.proquest.com/docview/6080790?accountid=14745.

Ellis, Alfred. Mary Moore. The Theatre, 1 July, 1895. Original image 4 3/4” x 3 5/8”. Acquired 1946. Via NationalPortraitGallery.org.uk.

Ellis, Alfred. Mary Moore. The Theatre, 1 July, 1895. Original image 4 3/4” x 3 5/8”. Acquired 1946. Via NationalPortraitGallery.org.uk.

“In Mr. Jones’s new play the treatment is wholly satirical or humorous. In this respect it differs from most of his previous accomplishments. In the comedies which constitute his latest and most important contribution to dramatic literature, Mr. Jones surrounds with comic accessories a main interest, pathetic and, at times, poignant. […] In The Case of Rebellious Susan Mr. Jones, conscious how dangerous is the ground he occupies, will not allow us to be series for a moment. Not that his theme is intrinsically comic. Only in the Restoration comedy are breakers of the Seventh Commandment regarded as matter for merriment, and husbands whose wives have betrayed them held up to ridicule. Going further than any of his recent predecessors, Mr. Jones, if he does not deliberately charge his heroine with infidelity, leaves the extent of her guilt a matter of speculation.”

"The Case of Rebellious Susan." Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art, vol. 78, no. 2033, 1894, pp. 407-408. ProQuest, https://search.proquest.com/docview/9503364?accountid=14745.


Other Sources

Jackson, Russell. “Introduction to The Case of Rebellious Susan.” Cambridge University Press, 1982, pp. 12-19.

Jones, Henry Arthur. “The Case of Rebellious Susan.” Plays by Henry Arthur Jones, Edited by Russell Jackson, Cambridge University Press, 1982, pp. 108-61.


[1] Most resources found that are applicable to The Case of Rebellious Susan in scholarship are not within the last twenty years. Rather, there is a lack of scholarship on the play that results in having to scrounge previous scholarship for anything at all.

[2] Although this piece of scholarship does not talk about The Case of Rebellious Susan explicitly, Andes does note how Susan, as the heroine, “stakes a claim to her own identity but by the end of the play is forced back into the societal fold.”

[3] Eltis’s book talks about Henry Arthur Jones’ plays in reference with other writers focusing on female sexual morality and judgement and, according to Eltis, were explicitly anti-feminist.