The Shilly-Shally Affair

The Athenaeum Club, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5ER

A Dramatic Reading of a Play by Barbara Lauriat

When Anthony Trollope’s autobiography was published posthumously in 1883, his son exercised his right under the instructions left by his father to omit, but not alter, parts of the work. One of the few omissions related to Charles Reade’s unauthorized dramatic adaptation of Trollope’s novel Ralph the Heir while Trollope was away in Australia in 1871-2. At the time, Trollope was incensed to discover that Reade—a novelist and dramatist who had himself suffered at the hands of unauthorized adaptors — had written the play and sold it to John Hollingshead at the Gaiety theatre. He was even more outraged when critics accused the play of indecency. Trollope and Reade’s notorious falling-out over the incident brought further attention to the question of whether the law should prevent unauthorized adaptations and led both of the men to lobby for copyright reform.

Dr Barbara Lauriat, Senior Lecturer in Law at King’s College London and member of the Trollope Society, has published two academic pieces based on her archival research on the relationship between Reade and Trollope and its legal and literary implications:

Barbara Lauriat, “The ‘Shilly-Shally’ Affair,” 72 Princeton University Library Chronicle 713-732 (2011).  Republished in an abridged form in Issue 93 of Trollopiana (Autumn 2012).

Barbara Lauriat, “Charles Reade’s Roles in the Drama of Victorian Dramatic Copyright,” 33 Columbia Journal of Law and the Arts 1-36 (2009).

She will be giving a short talk introducing the background of the dispute, which will be followed by a dramatic reading of her one-act play. A drinks reception will follow.

Please note that The Athenaeum’s dress code requires men to wear a jacket and tie.

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Address: The Athenaeum Club, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5ER