A piece of theatrical information is always welcome. Mr. Punch is happy to be able to announce that the spirited Manager of the Royal Ragbag Theatre has, with his accustomed energy and liberality, entrusted the first number of Little Dorrit to one of our most facile dramatists, for immediate adaptation to the stage, and that it will be brought out as soon as the scenic effects, for which the Ragbag is unrivalled, can be adequately prepared. The "Dioramic View of Marseilles,: the "Foundling Chapel," (with real organ) and "Little Dorrit's Home," will be among the most remarkable scenes. We must not forestal the labours of a Manager who caters so well for the public gratification; but we may be permitted to mention, that an admirable conclusion has already been constructed by the accomplished dramatist, and that the real secret of TATTYCORAM'S history, is developed in a most startling way. The whole force of the company will be thrown into the cast, and an author's original idea be presented in a piece at once faithful and dramatic. With such Managers there is yet hope for the British Drama.
The note at the beginning of Volume 29 remarks that "Mr. Dickens was continually subjected to this sort of piracy" (transcribed from a copy of Punch in the University of Minnesota Library).
Philip Bolton in Dickens Dramatized (1987) notes that the theatrical popularity of Dickens's novels continued to decline with the serial publication of Little Dorrit (December 1855 through June 1857). From Bolton's lists it is evident that the production referred to in Punch for 8 December 1855 as about to be launched at the "Royal Ragbag Theatre" did not in fact hit the boards of The Strand Theatre, London, until 10 November 1856, the adapter being F. Fox Cooper (who licensed the play based on the first half of the novel on 12 November 1856). The 29 May 1856 production at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, is not likely the subject of the satire in Punch, and no further early adaptations of the 19-part novel are listed — Philip V. Allingham].
Last modified 7 April 2004