the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the outstanding
movement in the dramatic field was that of romanticism
as against the classicism of most earlier European drama. In
France, the nineteenth century added the names of Victor
Hugo, Eugène Scribe, Émile Augier, Alexander
Dumas the younger, and Victorien Sardou.
En England a literary or "closet"
drama, entirely unsuited to stage production, sprang up. It listed
in its annals such names as Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley,
Swinburne, Browning, and Tennyson. It was not until the latter
part of the century that the English stage again showed signs
of life with the advent of Henry Arthur Jones, Sir
Arthur Wing Pinero, and Oscar
The latter part of this century, too, saw
the beginning of the independent theater movement that was to
be the forerunner of the "Little Theater" movement
that in the twentieth century spread far and wide. It was in
such theaters as these . . . the Théâtre Libre
of Paris, Die Freie Bühne of Berlin, the Independent
Theater of London and Miss Horniman's Theater in Manchester,
were first given a hearing.
During the latter part of the century in
Germany there appeared two dramatists who would go on to win
international fame: Hauptmann and Sudermann.
A Viennese physician, Arthur
Schnitzler, became widely known outside his native Austria
through his light and amusing Anatol.
In France, Brieux became the herald of
a realistic, not to say clinical, drama. Belgium produced Maeterlinck.
But the most notable event of the late nineteenth century was
probably the production in Paris of Edmond
It is, after that, something of an anti-climax
to record that in Italy Giacosa was writing his best known play,
As the Leaves, and composing the librettos for the operas,
La Bohème, Tosca, and Madame Butterfly;
or that Verga wrote In the Porter's Lodge, The Fox Hunt,
and Cavalleria Rusticana, which again is better known
through Muscagni's opera; or even that the best known of the
nineteenth century Italian dramatists, Gabriel d'Annunzio, was
making his somewhat contradictory contributions to the dramatic
art. Of the Italians who began their work in the late nineteenth
century, two deserve mention, Luigi
Pirandello and Sem Benelli whose Supper of Jokes is
known on the English and American stage as The Jest. Benelli's
Love of the Three Kings is best known outside Italy in
its operatic form.
In Spain José
Echegaray, author of The World and His Wife; José
Benavente, whose Passion Flower and Bonds of Interest
were offered on the American stage; and the brothers Sierra whose
Cradle Song achieved international fame, are a connecting
link between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as are Shaw,
in England and Lady Augusta Gregory and W.B. Yeats in Ireland.
This article was originally
published in Minute History of the Drama. Alice B. Fort
& Herbert S. Kates. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1935.