The Barretts of Wimpole Street

A play by Rudolf Besier, arranged in two parts and twenty-three scenes by Katharine Cornell. Opened at the Empire Theatre, New York City, February 9, 1931. Following the 370 performance run, Katherine Cornell took the show on a seven-month U.S. tour. Produced by Katherine Cornell, staged by Guthrie McClintic. Basil Rathbone was not part of the Broadway production, but joined the cast for the tour, which began in October, 1933. Below is the cast for the tour.

Cast of characters

Doctor Chambers David Glassford
Elizabeth Barrett Katherine Cornell
Wilson Brenda Forbes
Henrietta Moulton-Barrett Helen Walpole
Anabel Moulton-Barrett Harriet Ingersoll/
Pamela Simpson
Octavius Moulton-Barrett Orson Welles
Septimus Moulton-Barrett Irving Morrow
Alfred Moulton-Barrett Charles Brokaw
Charles Moulton-Barrett Lathrop Mitchell
Henry Moulton-Barrett Reynolds Evans
George Moulton-Barrett George Macready
Edward Moulton-Barrett Charles Waldron
Bella Hedley Margot Stevenson
Henry Bevan John Hoysradt
Robert Browning Basil Rathbone
Doctor Ford-Waterlow A.P. Kaye
Captain Cook Francis Moran

Acts I, II and III Elizabeth Barrett's Bed-Sitting-Room at 50 Wimpole Street, London, in 1845.

Rathbone as Browning
Rathbone as Browning

The play takes place in the Barrett home on Wimpole Street, London. It is the story of the epic love of Elizabeth and Robert Browning. Elizabeth is the oldest of eight children, all living in the home of their father, a thin-lipped Puritan. He is a man who is soured on life and who rules his family with domineering and tyrannical harshness. Because of marital difficulties and because he had suffered from love, the elder Barrett attempts to discourage any love-affairs into which his children might enter. Elizabeth has never seen Robert Browning, but has fallen in love with his poetry and correspondence. Robert calls on Elizabeth and warmly returns her affection in most delicately poetic love scenes. Under Robert's love Elizabeth blossoms and from invalidism is restored to health. In the face of her father's anger, Elizabeth elopes, leaving for Italy with her poet.


The Barretts of Wimpole Street


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All original content is Marcia Jessen, 2007