• The William E. Self Library, I auction at Christies

    Sale 2153

    The William E. Self Library, Important English and American Literature

    4 December 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 175

    [POE FAMILY--Eliza Arnold POE (1787-1811)]. HOARE, Prince (1755-1834). The Three and the Deuce! A Comic Drama, in three acts. London: Barker and Son, 1806.

    Price Realised  


    [POE FAMILY--Eliza Arnold POE (1787-1811)]. HOARE, Prince (1755-1834). The Three and the Deuce! A Comic Drama, in three acts. London: Barker and Son, 1806.

    8o. Interleaved. (Some leaves becoming loose.) Contemporary sheep-backed boards (rubbed with some wear); half morocco folding case.
    Provenance: The Chestnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia--familiarly known as Old Drury (co-managers' names "Warren & Reinagle" written in ink on title-page); later co-managed by William Warren and William Wood ("Warren & Wood" written in ink on first page of text).


    EXTENSIVELY ANNOTATED PROMPT COPY of the comic opera The Three and the Deuce, which was performed in Philadelphia at the theatre Poe's mother Eliza was associated with. In this prompt copy, owned by the Chestnut Street Theatre, the names of the American actors have been supplied in pencil alongside the printed names of the original English players in the dramatis personae. According to a pencil note in this copy beside the printed English actress' names for the character of Phoebe appears the name "Arnold" in light pencil (although after her marriage to David Poe in the Spring of 1806 she used her married name Poe on stage, and no record of a performance of this work before 1812 could be ascertained). In the script, notes and annotations appear throughout in ink and pencil, many lines are altered or whole passages deleted, and numerous appearance lists of characters and their stage positions are indicated.

    In 1791 Thomas Wignell and Alexander Reinagle convinced a group of Philadelphians to build a theatre to house the company Wignell had formed. It opened in 1793, and was at first called the New Theatre, it became the city's leading playhouse. Many of the most important American plays of the early 19th century, including virtually all the major works by the Philadelphia school of dramatists, received premieres there. After Wignell retired, the elder William Warren and William Wood continued to run the house successfully.

    British-born Eliza Arnold was the daughter of Henry Arnold and the English stage actress Elizabeth Arnold. Her father died when she was two years old, and in November 1795, mother and daughter came to Boston, with hopes of becoming successful on the American stage. Only three months after her arrival in the United States, Eliza debuted on the Boston stage at the age of nine, amid much acclaim. One of the most impressive venues at which Eliza performed was the Chestnut Street Theater near Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which seated two thousand. Left a young widow at eighteen, Eliza married the actor David Poe, Jr. in 1806. The couple traveled throughout New England and the Northeast, performing in various towns such as Richmond, Philadelphia, New York, before settling in Boston, where she had her two sons (a daughter followed in 1810). Over the course of her short career, Eliza played some 300 parts, as well as choral and dancing roles, including William Shakespeare characters Juliet Capulet and Ophelia. Abandoned with three children by David Poe, Eliza died of tuberculosis in a boarding house in Richmond on December 8, 1811, at the age of twenty-four.

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