20 November 2016

James Prior and Robert Dodsley in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire

Many thanks to Bob O'Neill for sending me scans of this programme, which he discovered among some old documents that his mother L. B. Allsop had saved. This details two plays performed at Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Chesterfield Road, Mansfield, in the School Hall on 24 March 1947: Robert Dodsley's The King and the Miller of Mansfield (1737) and a stage version of James Prior's novel Forest Folk (1901) by J. H. Rowley. The programme gives these notes on the authors:

'JAMES PRIOR KIRK, son of a Nottingham tradesman, wrote his neglected regional masterpiece in 1901. In addition to the vigour, charm and humour of the narrative, and the vivid depiction of the vanishing life and speech of the countryside, he introduces three momentous historical disturbances that changed the aspect of England – the Enclosure of the Commons, the Industrial Revolution and the Methodist Revival. Our play presents the opening chapters in a sequence of dialogues. We regret that exigencies of production have necessitated liberties with the text and plot, and deprived us of the principal character in the drama – Sherwood in all its moods, but we have faithfully endeavoured to preserve the spirit of our author and the fabric of his dialogue, and commend any who may be pleased or displeased by our rendering to meet the original in the fine new Bromley Press edition.

ROBERT DODSLEY, son of a Dissenting Schoolmaster of Mansfield, and presumed to be an Old Boy of the School, fled from his apprenticeship as a Stockinger to take service as a Footman in London, where his literary talent attracted the favour of his aristocratic employers. He became the most illustrious publisher of the age, and the friend of distinguished writers, noblemen and divines, being generally esteemed for his kindliness, wisdom and integrity: This interlude, based on a legend of his native town, was one of the most popular productions of the day, and we shall endeavour to suggest within our limitations not only the costume but the theatrical style of the period.'

A link to a number of my other posts on James Prior is here.

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