The Barretts of Wimpole Street

Definition

Theater

  • A play by Rudolf Besier based on the true love story of thepoets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning. It was first performedin 1930 in London with Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies as Elizabeth. The followingyear it opened on Broadway with a strong performance by KatherineCornell who began her management of the Empire Theatre withthe production. It ran for a year and then toured 77 US cities, providingCornell with her most famous role. The critic Brooks Atkinson wrotethat Cornell's "wild sensitivity... charges the drama witha meaning beyond the facts it records". The cast also includeda dog in the role of Elizabeth Barrett's beloved Flush.

    Set in 1845 in the London home of Edward Moulton-Barrett,the tyrannical father of the invalid Elizabeth, the play shows hisdomination of the large family. When the handsome young poet RobertBrowning is attracted to Elizabeth's poetry, visits, and eventuallyproposes, she is fearful of her father's reaction. When he strikesher sister for asking permission to marry, Elizabeth agrees to elope withBrowning and they prepare to leave. In his fury, Moulton-Barrett ordersher dog, Flush, to be destroyed but is thwarted.

    In 1964 the musical Robert and Elizabeth (book by FredG. Morrit and Ronald Millar and music by Ron Grainer) was producedin London with June Bronhill and Keith Michell in the lead roles.The songs included 'Moon in My Pocket' and 'In A Simple Way'.

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