A Jolly Cold World: An Introduction to the Theatre of Joseph Conrad
In December 1899, Stephen Crane — at the time residing at Brede Place in Sussex — invited a number of people, including many notable writers, to what H. G. Wells described as “a marvellous Christmas party” (Wells, 1966, 613). As part of the numerous festivities laid on by Crane, he led the collaborative writing of a play about the reputed haunting of the manor house to be called The Ghost. To this end, Crane collaborated with nine writers: H. G. Wells, Henry James, Robert Barr, H. Rider Haggard, H. B. Marriott-Watson, Edwin Pugh, George Gissing, A. E. W. Mason and Joseph Conrad. The play was performed in the School Room in Brede Place on 28 December. It is probably no surprise that Wells described the resulting production as “very allusive and fragmentary” (Wells, 1966, 613–14), which is somewhat polite compared to Crane’s description of the script as “rubbish” (Stallman, 1973, 491). Wells recalls that the play “amused the authors and caste [sic] vastly. What the Brede people made of it is not on record” (Wells, 1966, 614). Local opinion, however, does seem to be on record, the South Eastern Advertiser describing The Ghost as “a combination of farce, comedy, opera and burlesque” (Mackenzie, 1973, 146).
KeywordsManor House English Writer Collaborative Writing Liberal Censorship Secret Agent
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