Diana of Dobson’s
  • Publication Date: March 17, 2003
  • ISBN: 9781551113425 / 1551113422
  • 206 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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Diana of Dobson’s

  • Publication Date: March 17, 2003
  • ISBN: 9781551113425 / 1551113422
  • 206 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Very successful when first performed in London in 1908, Diana of Dobson’s introduces its audience to the overworked and underpaid female assistants at Dobson’s Drapery Emporium, whose only alternative to their dead-end jobs is the unlikely prospect of marriage. Although Cicely Hamilton calls the play “a romantic comedy,” like George Bernard Shaw she also criticizes a social structure in which so-called self-made men profit from the cheap labour of others, and men with good educations, but insufficient inherited money, look for wealthy wives rather than for work.

This Broadview edition also includes excerpts from Hamilton’s autobiography Life Errant (1935) and Marriage as a Trade (1909), her witty polemic on “the woman question”; historical documents illustrating employment options for women and women’s work in the theatre; and reviews of the original production of the play.


“This beautifully prepared edition of Cicely Hamilton’s comic gem offers readers and performers a new understanding of the complexities of the Edwardian period. The introduction carefully historicizes the social, political, and sexual forces that lie at the heart of the play and at the center of England’s entry to modernity. The text’s annotations and historical appendices give readers a context for understanding the play’s treatments of class, political privilege, and sexuality as expressions of the Edwardian moment.” — Kate E. Kelly, Texas A&M University

Cicely Hamilton: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

Diana of Dobson’s: A Romantic Comedy in Four Acts

Appendix A: Cicely Hamilton, from Life Errant (1935)

Appendix B: Employment Options for Women

  1. Cicely Hamilton, from Marriage as a Trade (1909)
  2. Clementina Black, from Sweated Industry and the Minimum Wage (1907)

Appendix C: Reader of Plays and Leading Lady

  1. Edward Knoblock, from Round the Room: An Autobiography (1939)
  2. Lena Ashwell, from Myself a Player (1936)

Appendix D: Contemporary Reviews

  1. The Stage, 13 February 1908
  2. Pall Mall, 13 February 1908
  3. Era, 15 February 1908
  4. The World, 19 February 1908
  5. Illustrated London News, 22 February 1908
  6. Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, 7 March 1908
  7. Production photographs from Illustrated London News, 22 February 1908

Appendix E: Women and the Theater

  1. Brander Matthews, from A Book about the Theater (1916)
  2. Marie Stopes, from A Banned Play [Vectia] and A Preface on the Censorship (1926)
  3. William Archer
    1. From The Old Drama and the New (1925)
    2. From Play-Making: A Manual of Craftsmanship (1912) “Dramatic and Undramatic”
    3. From Play-Making, “The Routine of Composition”
    4. From Play-Making, “Character and Psychology”
    5. From Play-Making, “Dialogue and Details”

Works Cited/Suggested Reading

Diane F. Gillespie is a Professor of English, Emeritus, at Washington State University.

Doryjane Birrer is an Assistant Professor of English at the College of Charleston, South Carolina.