Jim, the Penman


Jim, the Penman
   The English melodrama by Sir Charles Young ran for almost a year in London before it opened on 1 November 1886 at the Madison Square Theatre. The New York Times critic (2 November 1886) hailed its "quotable wit," ingenious "air of reality," and well-drawn personages that made it "a thoroughly good acting play." Beyond Broadway success, the play had a long life on the road, with 30 years of revivals throughout middle America.
   The title character is a skilled forger, James Ralston, who lives comfortably in London with the wife he won by fraud. He sent her and her fiancé each letters in the other's handwriting, breaking the engagement. When the ex-fiancé also loses his fortune through a forgery, he goes looking for the one who robbed him. The actress playing the wife gets a powerful and moving scene when she accidentally discovers that her husband had forged the letters that broke the betrothal to the man she loved. Jim, the penman, is about to be brought to justice when he fortuitously dies of heart disease, thus sparing the wife any shame that would accompany exposure of his fraudulent life.

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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