[ Percy Nash, actor and dramatist. ] Typewritten early draft of the musical comedy 'The Suffrage Girl', under the title 'A Woman's Vote', with extensive manuscript emendations and additions, drawings of two sets, and a page of the musical score.

Author: 
[ Percy Nash [ Percy Cromwell Nash ] (1869-1958), actor, dramatist and film director] [ Votes for Women; Suffragettes; Women's suffrage; Harry Gordon Selfridge; Selfridge's department store, London ]
Publication details: 
[ London, circa 1911. ]
£950.00
SKU: 17375

The present item is anonymous, but is certainly an early draft of 'The Suffrage Girl', the play written by film pioneer Percy Nash while an executive at Selfridge's department store in London, and performed by the store's employees in 1911 at the Court Theatre. (For more information see E. D. Rappaport's 'Shopping for Pleasure: Women in the Making of London's West End' (Princeton, 2001), as well as S. Croft, 'Votes For Women and other plays' (1909), the latter referring to a performance at St Andrews Church, West Kensington, on 6 February 1911.) According to Bernard Ince, in his essay 'The other Percy Nash: Theatrical Interludes in the Life of a Film Pioneer': 'in March 1911 appeared an amateur performance of The Suffrage Girl at the Court Theatre which Nash wrote, produced, and acted [in]. Described as "A Play of the Period when Women will have Votes", the cast was made up almost entirely from Selfridges' [sic] staff (named the Arlington Association), and included Nash's second wife, Jessie Nash née Rihll (1882-1956), whom he had married in 1912. She played the role of Dora Spencer under the stage name of Joan Ritz, and subsequently became a star of the silent screen. Also in the cast, in the role of Harry Fancourt, was Nash's brother-in-law, Louis Rihll (1879-1931), a talented amateur comedian and singer who also acted in two of Nash's later films, Harold Brighouse's Hobson's Choice (1920) and Conan Doyle's The Croxley Master (1921). Rihll had also appeared with the Tatlers and the Co-Optimists Revue parties, and was on the Council of the Concert Party Proprietors' Association. The Suffrage Girl has attracted considerable coverage in discourses on feminist, suffragist and consumer interactions of the early Edwardian era. Kaplan and Stowell have argued for example that the musical perhaps reflected "Selfridge's views on shopping, fashion, and free womanhood" and consider the production "a bizarre attempt to accommodate women's suffrage to the conventions of the shop-girl musical. " In a later analysis, Diane Rappaport commented, "If bizarre, The Suffrage Girl acted out the complex intersection between consumption and the theater, notions of modern femininity, and the mass market … [its] incredible popularity … suggests that its formula gratified a very broadly defined audience." In a preview, Nash, who would have been bemused rather than flattered by the attention paid to his amateur musical creation by later historians, stated "I have read hundreds of plays - most of them bad - but this is the first time I have written one. Whether mine is good or bad remains to be seen."' (Nash's play is also possibly the play titled 'A Woman's Vote', referred to in Kaplan and Stowell's 'Theatre and Fashion: Oscar Wilde to the Suffragettes' (CUP, 1995) as 'an anonymous anti-suffrage comedy written for performance at the Corn Exchange, Thrapston, in January 1909', a copy of which is present in the Lord Chamberlain's Collection of the British Library.) Included here together with the extensively-revised complete draft of the play are two copies of a typescript of the Second Act, incorporating the changes in the draft, and with a revised and extended ending. Both items are in good condition, with light signs of age and wear. ONE: Typescript of the complete two-act play. 90pp., 4to. With each act bound with string in separate brown-paper wraps. Numerous manuscript additions, including whole songs, and extensive emendations, often on separate leaves loosely inserted. The first act of the play is set in 'The Village of Oldhampton' and the second 'At the Hall (Night of the Election)'. It's main characters are Sir Thomas Dewston, Bart, ('Unionist Candidate for Oldhampton'), Frank Rothsay ('A Young Solicitor'), Benjamin Hanks 'Proprietor of the Local Store and Liberal Labour Candidate'), Harry Fancourt ('A Young Man about Town'), Nicodemus K. Bunker ('of California'), The Rev. Archibald Fossit ('Curate of the Parish') and Sir Thomas's sister and daughter Araminta and Sybil. Each act is preceded by a full-page pencil drawing, the first depicting 'The Village of Oldhampton' and the second 'the Hall'. There is also a diagram of the layout of the set of Act 2. A 4to page of musical score, on printed music paper, is also loosely inserted, and the song lyrics (with more than a hint of the Savoy Operas) include a 'Postmans' [sic] Chorus', a chorus by 'Mayor & Council', and 'Dramatic Music Through Speech'. The plot involves a love affair between Sybil Dewston and Frank Rothsay. When Sybil's father forbids her from marrying Rothsay, she disowns him. She is asked by her lover what she is going to do, and replies: 'Do? Work for my living. Women have just as much right to work as men, and now we have the vote to back us up we've nothing to be afraid of. (shakes hands all round) Cheers. The first act ends: 'CHORUS | Relent Sir Thomas, ere it is too late | And help them both to join the marriage state | Hold your rash hand and bid your daughter stay | Thus smoothe the rugged course of true love's way. | SYBIL: Farewell! (she goes up centre with Dora. Sir Thomas down L. turns from her. [...] Hanks jumps on table L. and scatters leaflets in the air. Shouting: "Vote for Hanks and free love."as | CURTAIN'. The Second Act is enlivened by the appearance of Bunker, 'a typical American'. TWO: Two copies of a typescript of the second act of the play. 41pp., 4to. Both unbound. One copy lacking the first page. Incorporating the revisions to Item One, and with a 'Finale' song replacing one deleted from the draft, followed by a page and a half of new dialogue.Included here together with the extensively-revised complete draft of the play are two copies of a typescript of the Second Act, incorporating the changes in the draft, and with a revised and extended ending. ONE: Typescript of the complete two-act play. 90pp., 4to. With each act bound with string in separate brown-paper wraps. Numerous manuscript additions, including whole songs, and extensive emendations, often on separate leaves loosely inserted. The first act of the play is set in 'The Village of Oldhampton' and the second 'At the Hall (Night of the Election)'. It's main characters are Sir Thomas Dewston, Bart, ('Unionist Candidate for Oldhampton'), Frank Rothsay ('A Young Solicitor'), Benjamin Hanks 'Proprietor of the Local Store and Liberal Labour Candidate'), Harry Fancourt ('A Young Man about Town'), Nicodemus K. Bunker ('of California', possibly a humorous depiction of Selfridge), The Rev. Archibald Fossit ('Curate of the Parish') and Sir Thomas's sister and daughter Araminta and Sybil. Each act is preceded by a full-page pencil drawing, the first depicting 'The Village of Oldhampton' and the second 'the Hall'. There is also a diagram of the layout of the set of Act 2. A 4to page of musical score, on printed music paper, is also loosely inserted, and the song lyrics (with more than a hint of the Savoy Operas) include a 'Postmans' [sic] Chorus', a chorus by 'Mayor & Council', and 'Dramatic Music Through Speech'. The plot involves a love affair between Sybil Dewston and Frank Rothsay. When Sybil's father forbids her from marrying Rothsay, she disowns him. She is asked by her lover what she is going to do, and replies: 'Do? Work for my living. Women have just as much right to work as men, and now we have the vote to back us up we've nothing to be afraid of. (shakes hands all round) Cheers. The first act ends: 'CHORUS | Relent Sir Thomas, ere it is too late | And help them both to join the marriage state | Hold your rash hand and bid your daughter stay | Thus smoothe the rugged course of true love's way. | SYBIL: Farewell! (she goes up centre with Dora. Sir Thomas down L. turns from her. [...] Hanks jumps on table L. and scatters leaflets in the air. Shouting: "Vote for Hanks and free love."as | CURTAIN'. The Second Act is enlivened by the appearance of Bunker, 'a typical American'. TWO: Two copies of a typescript of the second act of the play. 41pp., 4to. Both unbound. One copy lacking the first page. Incorporating the revisions to Item One, and with a 'Finale' song replacing one deleted from the draft, followed by a page and a half of new dialogue.