What Every Woman Knows



  • A social comedy by J. M. Barrie, first produced atthe Duke of York's Theatre, London, in 1908.

    The play is set in a small town in Scotland, where the parentsof plain Maggie Wylie promise to pay for the education of drab JohnShand if he will marry her. When Shand becomes an MP, the couple marry;he soon becomes known for his witty speeches, largely written by hisnew wife. When he is attracted to another woman, Maggie cleverly letshim discover this woman's failings for himself. At last, John comesto appreciate his wife's wit and charm.

    Helen Hayes scored a great success in the role of Maggie Wyliein a 1926 performance on Broadway. She played the part for so manyyears, and revised her interpretation so thoroughly that the criticBrooks Atkinson became totally confused. In 1926 he wrote that Hayes"is not quite up to the interpretation of so full-bodied a part...thisMaggie is a woman of tougher substance than Miss Hayes communicates..."Years later, he noted, "She was perfectly cast when she playedin Barrie's What Every Woman Knows - a mousy, unassertivewoman..."