East Lynne



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"O heavens! I see it all now; her wild words to me - her strange looks. O master, she has destroyed herself, and she's been driven to it." The first stage version of East Lynne was performed on January 26th, 1863 in Brooklyn. The play was so popular that by March two other variations were competing and thriving with the New York audience. The story has been adapted multiple times and produced so often that it is believed that the play was performed in either North America or England every week for more than forty years. The novel by Ellen Wood was published in 1861 and would become a bestseller to Victorian audiences. These "sensation novels" would fit taboo material like adultery, seduction and murder in an everyday setting, challenging the idea that events like this were foreign to middle-class life. The genre, initiated by East Lynne, would expand thereafter with works like Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. East Lynne is set in the household of Lady Isabel Carlyle, wife of a lawyer, who leaves her husband to elope with another man. After he leaves her to bear their illegitimate child, she disguises herself in order to be hired as the governess of her former husband's household. The storyline is improbably entertaining, the first in a long line of sensational stories. This dramatic adaptation was published by Walter H. Baker & Co. circa 1916.

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