Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s shocking and suspenseful novel Lady Audley’s Secret was one of the most popular examples of the “sensation fiction” craze of the 1860s. Within a year of the novel appearing in book form, no less than three theatrical adaptations appeared on the London stage. Braddon took strong issue with two of these, but she approved of the adaptation by Robert Walters (writing under the pseudonym “George Roberts”); this edition presents that version, which enjoyed a two season run at the Royal St. James Theatre. Entertaining in itself, the play also provides a fascinating example of how the suspense and the powerful characterizations of sensation fiction were heightened still further for the stage.
Together with the annotated text of the play itself, this edition includes an introduction addressing the life and work of Mary Elizabeth Braddon and placing Lady Audley’s Secret: A Drama in Two Acts in the context of the sensation fiction phenomenon. Appendices include a substantial selection of reviews of Lady Audley’s Secret—of the novel as well as of its dramatic adaptations—as well as a selection from the novel for comparison with the play.
“This edition of George Roberts’s version of Lady Audley’s Secret makes available for the first time the version performed at the St. James’s Theatre. It comes with a useful introduction, comparative analysis of the play and the novel, and a cross-section of reviews, both of the novel and of this particular dramatization. The annotations are generally very helpful. … [and the edition includes] some invaluable background resources.” — Jim Davis, University of Warwick