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Arthur Wing Pinero


Arthur Wing Pinero

From The Oxford Companion to English Literature: 

Sir Arthur Wing Pinero 
 (1855-1934). He left school at 10 to work in his father's solicitor's practice, but, stage-struck from youth, became an actor, and was noticed by H. Irving who later produced some of his plays. His first one-act play, Two Hundred a Year, performed in 1877, heralded a successful and prolific career. The first of his farces, The Magistrate (perf. 1885), involves a series of ludicrous confusions between Mr Posket, the magistrate, and his family; it brought Pinero both fame and wealth. Later farces, such as The School-Mistress(1887), did nearly as well, as did his sentimental comedy S
weet Lavender (1888). His first serious play, on what was to be the recurrent theme of double standards for men and women, was The Profligate (1889); it was praised by Archer, and noted not only for its frankness but also for its absence of the standard devices of soliloquy and aside. Lady Bountiful (1891) was the first of the 'social' plays in which Pinero was deemed to display his understanding of women. The Second Mrs Tanqueray (1893), returning to the theme of double standards, was a lasting success. The Notorious Mrs Ebbsmith (1895) again dealt with a woman's dubious past. Trelawny of the 'Wells' (1898), a sentimental comedy nostalgically recalling his own passion for the theatre he had haunted as a boy, also had great success. He continued to write, but, although knighted in 1909, lived through many years of dwindling reputation and disillusion, eclipsed by the reising popularity of the new theatre of Ibsen and G. B. Shaw

The Second Mrs Tanqueray, a play by Sir A. Pinero, first performed 1893. 

Tanqueray, knowing of Paula's past reputation, still determines to marry her, in the belief that his love and the generosity of his friends will prove strong enough to counter prejudice and hypocrisy. Ellean, his young convent-bred daughter from a previous marriage, comes to live with him and Paula; soon Tanqueray begins to realize that Ellean, his friends, and his own suspicions are proving too powerful an opposition to his once-loving marriage. whan Paula realizes that she has lost his love, she kills herself. Because of the daring theme Pinero had great difficulty in having the play accepted for production, but once produced it was an immediate and abiding success. 

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