DICKENS, CHARLES (1812-1870, novelist and actor)
Lot 59
DICKENS, CHARLES (1812-1870, novelist and actor)
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DICKENS, CHARLES (1812-1870, novelist and actor)
THEATRICAL 'CIRCULAR' IN FRED DICKENS'S HAND SIGNED BY CHARLES DICKENS ('Charles Dickens'), setting out regulations for the behaviour of his troupe of amateur actors, 3 pages, octavo, 1 May 1848


  • Dickens sent a version of this circular with a letter dated 30 April 1848 to Mark Lemon stating that he has sent it round to everyone and will post it 'all over the Stage' on Tuesday, and that he is 'bent on going at it in earnest.'

    'Remembering the very imperfect condition of all our plays at present, the general expectation in reference to them, the kind of audience before which they will be presented, and the near approach of the Nights of performance, I hope everyone concerned, will abide by the following regulations, and will aid in strictly carrying them out.

    1. No Lady or Gentleman to remain upon the Stage during rehearsal, or in any one of the entrances, unless called or actually on. But every one, except the Stage Director and Manager, to go into the Pit, when the rehearsal is at Miss Kelly's Theatre, or into the Green-Room when it is at the Haymarket, and to remain there, until called.
    2. Silence, on the Stage and in the Theatre, to be faithfully observed; the lobbies &c being always available for Conversation.
    3. No book to be referred to, on the Stage; but those who are imperfect, to take their words from the Prompter.
    4. Every one to act, as nearly as possible, as on the night of performance. Every one to speak out, so as to be audible through the house: and every mistake of exit, entrance, or situation, to be corrected three times successively.
    All who were concerned in the first getting-up of Every Man in his Humour, and remember how carefully the Stage was always kept, then - and who have been engaged in the late rehearsals of the Merry Wives, and have experienced the difficulty of getting on, or off: of being heard, or hearing any body else - will, I am sure acknowledge the indispensable necessity of these regulations.

    I beg to add that My time, between the date of this and the Nights of performance, is at the disposal of the Company, or of any Member of it, and that we cannot have too much or too exact preparation.

    First May, 1848. Charles Dickens'

    The letter to Lemon and the text of the circular are given, and the identification of the scribe as Fred Dickens is made in The Letters of Charles Dickens, volume 5, 1847-1849, edited by Graham Storey and K.J. Fielding, 1981, pp. 293-294. The editors propose that Dickens probably dated the circular 1 May to avoid a Sunday-dating for a piece of business, though he wrote it on 30 April.

    Manuscript material relating to Dickens's amateur theatricals is uncommon. The regulations relate to a presentation of Every Man in His Humour and Merry Wives of Windsor, rehearsed at Miss Kelly's Theatre - performances took place in London, and then they went on tour at Plymouth, Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow. 'There's nothing in the world', Dickens wrote, 'equal to seeing the house rise at you, one sea of delighted faces, one hurrah of applause!'
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