Henry Arthur Jones

Last updated

Henry Arthur Jones
Jones HenryArthur-001.jpg
Born(1851-09-20)20 September 1851
Died7 January 1929(1929-01-07) (aged 77)
Nationality British
Occupation dramatist

Henry Arthur Jones (20 September 1851 – 7 January 1929) was an English dramatist. [1]



Jones was born at Granborough, Winslow, Buckinghamshire, to Silvanus Jones, a farmer. Until he was 13, he attended Grace's Classical and Commercial Academy in Winslow, where he inherited property on his father's death in 1914. [2] He began to earn his living early, his spare time being given to literary pursuits.

Granborough village in the United Kingdom

Granborough is a village and civil parish within Aylesbury Vale district in Buckinghamshire, England. It is located about five miles north of Waddesdon, seven miles south east of Buckingham. The nearest town is Winslow.

Winslow, Buckinghamshire town in Aylesbury Vale, United Kindom

Winslow is a market town and civil parish designated as a town council in the Aylesbury Vale district of north Buckinghamshire. It has a population of just over 4,400.

Career overview

He was twenty-seven before his first piece, It's Only Round the Corner, was produced at the Exeter Theatre, but within four years of his debut as a dramatist he scored a great success with The Silver King (November 1882), written with Henry Herman, a melodrama produced by Wilson Barrett at the Princess's Theatre, London. Its financial success enabled the author to write a play "to please himself".

The Silver King is an 1882 melodramatic play, by Henry Arthur Jones and Henry Herman. It was "so well known that criticism is superfluous" and played to record-breaking audiences. The play was adapted for films in 1919 and 1929. The play featured stars such as Mary Pickford.

Henry Herman was an English dramatist and novelist.

Wilson Barrett British actor

Wilson Barrett was an English manager, actor, and playwright. With his company, Barrett is credited with attracting the largest crowds of English theatregoers ever because of his success with melodrama, an instance being his production of The Silver King (1882) at the Princess's Theatre of London. The historical tragedy The Sign of the Cross (1895) was Barrett's most successful play, both in England and in the United States.

Saints and Sinners (1884), which ran for two hundred nights, placed on the stage a picture of middle-class life and religion in a country town, and the introduction of the religious element raised considerable outcry. The author defended himself in an article published in the Nineteenth Century (January 1885), [3] taking for his starting-point a quotation from the preface to Molière's Tartuffe . His next serious pieces, The Middleman (1889) and Judah (1890), established his reputation.

Molière 17th-century French playwright and actor

Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière, was a French playwright, actor and poet, widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in the French language and universal literature. His extant works include comedies, farces, tragicomedies, comédie-ballets and more. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed at the Comédie-Française more often than those of any other playwright today. His influence is such that the French language itself is often referred to as the "language of Molière".

<i>Tartuffe</i> play by Molière

Tartuffe, or The Impostor, or The Hypocrite, first performed in 1664, is one of the most famous theatrical comedies by Molière. The characters of Tartuffe, Elmire, and Orgon are considered among the greatest classical theatre roles.

His plays have been given a total of 28 productions on Broadway, the most recent in 1928 ( Mrs Dane's Defence ). [4]

<i>Mrs Danes Defence</i> play written by Henry Arthur Jones

Mrs. Dane's Defence is a society play in four acts by the British playwright Henry Arthur Jones.

A uniform edition of his plays began to be issued in 1891. His views of dramatic art were expressed from time to time in lectures and essays, collected in 1895 as The Renaissance of the English Drama .


Criticism of his plays

In his lifetime

"There are three rules for writing plays," said Oscar Wilde. "The first rule is not to write like Henry Arthur Jones; the second and third rules are the same." [7] This comic belittling is prompted by Wilde's aloof attitude in distancing himself from the foibles of the middle and higher classes, as opposed to Jones' method of realistic observations (from his viewpoint) on the way ordinary people act, though mainly emphasizing faults and weaknesses.[ citation needed ]


"Author-Manager". Caricature by Spy published in Vanity Fair in 1892. Henry Arthur Jones, Vanity Fair, 1892-04-02.jpg
"Author-Manager". Caricature by Spy published in Vanity Fair in 1892.

Although often treating similar subjects and with a similar realistic style as Henrik Ibsen, Jones is much less well known. One reason is his lack of deep psychological insight characteristic of the Norwegian master. Jones' dramatic characters are mostly one-sided. Another factor is Jones' conservative-minded attitude, as opposed to the liberal-minded Ibsen. Jones' comedies such as The Liars and Joseph Entangled have a slack construction, both tediously drawn out from a premise whereby a non-adulterous couple is caught in a compromising situation. In contrast, his dramas such as The Hypocrites , The Lie , and Mrs Dane's Defence have a tight construction with some striking scenes. The action in either style mostly represents ordinary people in conflict over amorous relations. Men often appear selfish, narrow-minded, and brutish, but sometimes uncompromising and brave. Women often appear frightened, especially whenever threatened to be exposed to social ostracism, but most often loyal and sensitive. Either sex often loses their heads whenever in the throes of love. There is often a male authoritative figure who sums up the situation in the final act, whose views are rarely or never challenged, such as Sir Daniel in Mrs Dane's Defence and Sir Richard in The Case of Rebellious Susan . The latter advises in this way a feminist who has incited female workers to strike: "At her own fireside, there is an immense future for women as wives and mothers, and a very limited future for them in any other capacity. While you ladies without passions — or with distorted and defeated passions — are raving and trumpeting all over the country, that wise, grim, old grandmother of us all, Dame Nature, is simply laughing up her sleeve and snapping her fingers at you and your new epochs and new movements. Go home!" Occasionally, there is a character who defies the views of most of the rest, such as Mr Linnell, the curate in The Hypocrites , which concerns the conflict between religious principles and money.

His criticisms of other people's plays

In his old age, Jones remarked that A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen should have ended with Helmer 'pouring himself a stiff glass of whisky and water and lifting it reverently toward Heaven exclaiming "Thank God I'm well rid of her"'. [8]

Political writings

Later in his life Henry Arthur Jones wrote a series of non-fiction articles "arguing from the right against H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw". [9] Jones' non-fiction also expressed his opposition to Communism and the Soviet Union. [10]

One such work was My Dear Wells: a Manual for Haters of England (1921), a collection of open letters to H.G. Wells originally published in the New York Times. A sample of this work: "You unreservedly condemn and ridicule the cardinal Marxian doctrines. In this matter I congratulate you upon being in the company of thinkers of a higher cast than your usual associates and disciples. You tell us that although Marxian communism is stupidly, blindly wrong and mischievous, you have an admiration and friendship for the men who have imposed it upon the Russian people to the infinite misery and impoverishment of the land." [11]

Wells repeatedly declined to respond, as in this letter to the New York Times, in 1921: "I do not believe that Mr. Jones has ever read a line that I have written. But he goes on unquenchably, a sort of endless hooting. I would as soon argue with some tiresome, remote and inattentive foghorn"; [12] and later, in 1926, in the preface to Mr Belloc Objects: "For years I have failed to respond to Mr. Henry Arthur Jones, who long ago invented a set of opinions for me and invited me to defend them with an enviable persistence and vigour. Occasionally I may have corrected some too gross public mis-statement about me — too often I fear with the acerbity of the inexperienced." [13]

Another sample of Henry Arthur Jones political writing is his response to George Bernard Shaw's anti-war manifesto Common Sense About the War: "The hag Sedition was your mother, and Perversity begot you. Mischief was your midwife and Misrule your nurse, and Unreason brought you up at her feet - no other ancestry and rearing had you, you freakish homunculus, germinated outside of lawful procreation." [14]

Related Research Articles

<i>A Dolls House</i> play by Henrik Ibsen

A Doll's House is a three-act play written by Norway's Henrik Ibsen. It premiered at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 21 December 1879, having been published earlier that month. The play is set in a Norwegian town circa 1879.

Henrik Ibsen Norwegian playwright and theatre director

Henrik Johan Ibsen was a Norwegian playwright and theatre director. As one of the founders of modernism in theatre, Ibsen is often referred to as "the father of realism" and one of the most influential playwrights of his time. His major works include Brand, Peer Gynt, An Enemy of the People, Emperor and Galilean, A Doll's House, Hedda Gabler, Ghosts, The Wild Duck, When We Dead Awaken, and The Master Builder. He is the most frequently performed dramatist in the world after Shakespeare, and by the early 20th century A Doll's House became the world's most performed play.

Arthur Wing Pinero British writer

Sir Arthur Wing Pinero was an English playwright and, early in his career, actor.

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1891.

Henry Irving English stage actor of the Victorian era

Sir Henry Irving, born John Henry Brodribb, sometimes known as J. H. Irving, was an English stage actor in the Victorian era, known as an actor-manager because he took complete responsibility for season after season at the Lyceum Theatre, establishing himself and his company as representative of English classical theatre. In 1895 he became the first actor to be awarded a knighthood, indicating full acceptance into the higher circles of British society.

Jeremy Northam British actor

Jeremy Philip Northam is an English actor. After a number of television roles, he earned attention as Mr. Knightley in the 1996 film adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma. He has appeared in the films An Ideal Husband, Gosford Park, Amistad, The Winslow Boy, Enigma, Martin and Lewis, amongst others. He also played Thomas More in the Showtime series The Tudors. From 2016 to 2017 he appeared as Anthony Eden in the Netflix series The Crown.

<i>The Wild Duck</i> play by Henrik Ibsen

The Wild Duck is an 1884 play by the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. It is considered the first modern masterpiece in the genre of tragicomedy.

George Robert Sims English journalist, poet, dramatist, novelist

George Robert Sims was an English journalist, poet, dramatist, novelist and bon vivant.

Doug Wright is an American playwright, librettist, and screenwriter. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2004 for his play, I Am My Own Wife.

Well-made play

The well-made play is a dramatic genre from nineteenth-century theatre first codified by French dramatist Eugène Scribe. Dramatists Victorien Sardou, Alexandre Dumas, fils, and Emile Augier wrote within the genre, each putting a distinct spin on the style. The well-made play was a popular form of entertainment. By the mid-19th century, however, it had already entered into common use as a derogatory term. Henrik Ibsen and the other realistic dramatists of the later 19th century built upon its technique of careful construction and preparation of effects in the genre problem play. "Through their example", Marvin Carlson explains, "the well-made play became and still remains the traditional model of play construction."

Jeffrey Hatcher American writer

Jeffrey Hatcher is an American playwright and screenwriter. He wrote the stage play Compleat Female Stage Beauty, which he later adapted into a screenplay, shortened to just Stage Beauty (2004). He also co-wrote the stage adaptation of Tuesdays with Morrie with author Mitch Albom, and Three Viewings, a comedy consisting of three monologues - each of which takes place in a funeral home. He wrote the screenplay Casanova for director Lasse Hallström, as well as the screenplay for The Duchess (2008). He has also written for the Peter Falk TV series Columbo and E! Entertainment Television.

Langdon Elwyn Mitchell American playwright

Langdon Elwyn Mitchell was an American playwright popular on Broadway in the early twentieth century. He was the son of a noted writer and neurologist, S. Weir Mitchell, and the grandson of writer and physician John Kearsley Mitchell. Born in Philadelphia, he studied in Dresden and Paris, attended the Harvard and Columbia law schools, and was admitted to the New York bar in 1886. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, he wrote plays under his own name and poetry under the pen name "John Philip Varley."

George Sutton Titheradge Australian actor

George Sutton Titheradge was an English-Australian actor.

W. H. Denny British singer and actor

W. H. Denny was an English singer and actor best remembered for his portrayal of baritone roles in the Savoy operas.

Mrs. Brown, Youve Got a Lovely Daughter 1965 single by Hermans Hermits

"Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter" is a popular song written by British actor, screenwriter and songwriter Trevor Peacock. It was originally sung by actor Tom Courtenay in The Lads, a British TV play of 1963, and released as a single on UK Decca.

The Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company is a regional Canadian theatre company, producing plays since 1962. The following is a list of the productions that have been staged since its inception, starting with the most recently completed season.

Henry Compton (actor) British actor

Henry Compton was an English actor best known for his Shakespearean comic roles.

Viva Birkett British actress

Viva Birkett was a British stage actress active on both sides of the Atlantic over the early decades of the twentieth century.

<i>Mrs. Danes Defense</i> (film) 1918 film by Hugh Ford

Mrs. Dane's Defense is a 1918 American drama silent film directed by Hugh Ford and written by Henry Arthur Jones and Margaret Turnbull. The film stars Pauline Frederick, Frank Losee, Leslie Austin, Maude Turner Gordon, Ormi Hawley and John L. Shine. The film was released on January 7, 1918, by Paramount Pictures.


  1. "JONES, Henry Arthur". Who's Who. Vol. 59. 1907. p. 951.
  2. "Winslow History - Silvanus Jones (1827-1914) and Henry Arthur Jones the playwright (1851-1929)" . Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  3. Jones, Henry Arthur (1885). "Religion and the Stage," The Nineteenth Century, Vol. XVII, pp. 154–169.
  4. http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=6221 Jones' Broadway plays
  5. Hazell's Annual (Hazell, Watson, and Viney, 1912), p. 498
  6. "Theatre review: Mary Goes First at Orange Tree, Richmond" . Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  7. "Taking The Curtain Call: The Life and Letters of Henry Arthur Jones" by Doris Arthur Jones
  8. Quoted in Anthony Jenkins, The Making of Victorian Drama, 1991, Page 278
  9. The Henry Arthur Jones Collection at the University of London Archived 5 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  10. John S. Partington, "The Pen as Sword: George Orwell, H.G. Wells and Journalistic Parricide" Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 39, No. 1 (Jan., 2004), pp. 45.
  11. Henry Arthur Jones, Gentle Advice To "My Dear Wells", New York Times, Sunday 5 December 1920, query.nytimes.com
  12. H.G. Wells Mr. Wells on His Critics, 6 January 1921 New York Times, query.nytimes.com
  13. H.G. Wells, Mr. Belloc Objects, gutenberg.net.au, September 1926
  14. quoted by Margot Peters, The Playwright as Terrorist New York Times, 17 September 1989, query.nytimes.com

Further reading