• Publication Date: August 9, 2017
  • ISBN: 9781554811540 / 1554811546
  • 225 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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  • Publication Date: August 9, 2017
  • ISBN: 9781554811540 / 1554811546
  • 225 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s last play, an adaptation of August von Kotzebue’s Die Spanier in Peru first performed in 1799, was one of the most popular of the entire century. Set during the Spanish Conquest of Peru, Pizarro dramatizes English fears of invasion by Revolutionary France, but it is also surprisingly and critically engaged with Britain’s colonial exploits abroad. Pizarro is a play of firsts: the first use of music alongside action, the first collapsing set, the first production to inspire such celebratory ephemera as cartoons, portraits, postcards, even porcelain collector plates. Pizarro marks the end of eighteenth-century drama and the birth of a new theatrical culture.

This edition features a comprehensive introduction and extensive appendices documenting the play’s first successful performances and global influence. It will appeal to students and scholars of Romantic literature, theatre history, post-colonialism, and Indigenous studies.


“This exemplary edition of Sheridan’s spectacular melodrama demonstrates how the play made history in multiple ways—theatrically, technically, nationally, and imperially. The editors expertly bring together source materials and stage history to revivify the original context of the play, its production, and its reception.” — Joseph Roach, Sterling Professor of Theater, Yale University

“The new Broadview edition of Pizarro has thus the great merit of helping a modern-day readership to rediscover this classic hit of Romantic drama through an innovative commentary and appendices, including a wide selection of historical sources on the invasion of Peru and dramatical testimonies of the invasion of the Americas by the Spanish, along with contemporary reviews and criticism resulting from the play’s representation. This edition demonstrates once again that English Romantic drama, even when adapted from already existing texts, possessed an innovative momentum that can be recognized at different levels: technical, theatrical, and, last but not least, political.” — Carlotta Farese, European Romantic Review

List of Illustrations
Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Pizarro: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

Pizarro: A Tragedy in Five Acts

Appendix A: Deleted “Diego” Scene

  1. From Sheridan’s Original Manuscript Draft Adapted from
    German Translation

Appendix B: Historical Sources on the Spanish Conquest of

  1. From Bartolomeo de Las Casas, Tears of the Indians (1656)
  2. From Abbé Guillaume Thomas François Raynal, A Philosophical and Political History of the Settlements and Trade of the Europeans in the East and West Indies
  3. From Jean-François Marmontel, The Incas: or, the Destruction of the Empire of Peru (1777)
  4. From William Robertson, The History of America (1777)

Appendix C: The Spanish Invasion of Peru in British Theatre

  1. From William Davenant, The Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru (1658)
  2. From John Thelwall, The Incas, or The Peruvian Virgin (1792)
  3. From Thomas Morton, Columbus, or, A World Discovered, an historical play (1792)

Appendix D: Reviews of the First Production of Pizarro

  1. From “Theatre,” Morning Chronicle (25 May 1799)
  2. From “PIZARRO,” Morning Post and Gazetteer (25 May 1799)
  3. From “Theatre—Drury Lane,” General Evening Post (25 May 1799)
  4. From “Theatre,” Evening Mail (27 May 1799)
  5. From Account of Royal Command Performance, The Star (6 June 1799)
  6. From “The Theatre,” True Briton (6 June 1799)

Appendix E: Critiques of Pizarro

  1. From [William Gifford], “Remarks on Kotzebue’s Pizarro,” The Anti-Jacobin Review
  2. From A Critique of the Tragedy of Pizarro (1799)
  3. From Samuel Bardsley, Critical Remarks on Pizarro (1800)
  4. From John Britton, Sheridan and Kotzebue … (1799)
  5. From “Mr. Sheridan,” Public Characters of 1799–1800 (1799)
  6. From [Frederic Reynolds], “Some Account of a Dreadful Disease Called the Kotzebue-Mania,” The Oracle

Appendix F: Sheridan’s Speeches, Rolla’s Address, and the Address to the People

  1. From “Proceedings against Warren Hastings” (1788)
  2. From “Union of Ireland with Great Britain” (23 January 1799)
  3. “Mr. Sheridan’s Pizarro,” The Monthly Mirror (January 1800)
  4. Sheridan’s Address to the People (1803)
  5. From William Cobbett, “Letter IV,” Political Proteus (1804)

Works Cited and Select Bibliography

Selena Couture is Assistant Professor of Drama at the University of Alberta. Alexander Dick is Associate Professor of English at the University of British Columbia.