A: Colin Hazlewood Pf: 1863, London Pb: 1863 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Audley House and its grounds, and the Castle Inn, 1863 C: 4m, 3f, extrasThe 24-year-old Lady Audley, formerly the governess to Sir Michael Audley, is now happily married to her elderly employer. Her ‘secret’ is that some years previously she married George Talboys, who went off to India to make his fortune. When she heard nothing from him, she pretended to die so that she could begin a new existence. Her present prosperity is jeopardized by the return of her husband George, the friend of Sir Michael's nephew Robert. When George threatens to denounce her as a bigamist, she hits him over the head and throws him down a well. A drunken lout Luke Marks witnesses the crime and blackmails her. Robert has also developed his own suspicions about Lady Audley; so when Robert and Luke begin drinking together at the Castle Inn, Lady Audley locks them in and sets fire to the building. Robert manages to save them, and the badly burned Luke denounces Lady Audley with his dying words. George now appears (his life had been saved by Luke), and Lady Audley goes mad and dies.
A: Colin Hazlewood Pf: 1863, London Pb: 1863 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Audley House and its grounds, and the Castle Inn, 1863 C: 4m, 3f, extras
Hazlewood's version of Mary Elizabeth Braddon's novel Lady Audley's Secret of 1862 was one of several adaptations for the stage, the most popular being that by George Roberts in 1863, but which was never published. While lacking any particular literary merit, it is a well-constructed piece, building the tension well towards its spectacular denouement. The upper-class ambience also reflects the fact that polite society were now becoming patrons of melodrama.