WM, Clyde Fitch

H.L. Mencken

Baltimore Evening Sun/December 28, 1910

The fact that type metal refuses to be squeezed made it impossible yesterday to print a complete list of the plays of the late Clyde Fitch in one column. All of the original plays, however, were listed, with their dates of production and the names of the principal performers appearing in them, and a number of adaptations and dramatizations were added. Below will be found a list of the remaining dramatizations and another of the Fitch books:

“Mrs. Grundy, Jr,” From the French, Washington, December 28, 1898. Henrietta Crossman in original cast.

“Bohemia,” From “Scenes de la Vie de Boheme,” by Hearl Merger and Theodore Barriore. Empire Theatre, New York, March 9, 1896. Henry Miller, William Faversham, J. E. Dodson, Jameson Leo Finney, Viola Allen, Elsie De Wolfe, Ida Conquest and May Robson in original cast.

“The Liar,” From the French of Alexandre (-), Hoyt’s Theatre, New York, September 2, 18(-). Fritz Williams and Katharina Florence in original cast.

“A Superfluous Husband,” in collaboration with Leo Ditrichatein. From the German of Ludwig F(-). Fifth Avenue Theatre, New York, January, 1897. Joseph and E. M. Holland is the original cast.

“The Head of the Family,” in collaboration, with Leo Ditrichatein. From the German, Knickerbocker Theatre, New York, December, 1898. William H. Crane and Percy Haswell in original cast.

“Sapho,” From the French of Alphonse Daudet. Wallack’s Theatre, February (-) 1900. Olga Nethersole and Hamilton Bevelle in original cast.

“The Marriage Game.” From Emile Augier’s “Le Mariage Olympe,” Victoria Theatre, New York, December 10, 1901, Sadie Martinet, Edwin Arden and Guy Bates Post in original cast.

“The Bird in the Cage.” From the German of Von Wildenbruch. Bijou Theatre, New York, January 12, 1903. Edward Harrigan, Arnold Daly and Guy Bates Post in original cast.

“The Frisky Mrs. Johnson,” From the French of Gauvalt and Barr. Bijon Theatre, New York, February, 1908. Amelia Bingham, Wilton Lackaye, Madge Carr Cook, Ferdinand Gottschalk and Minnie Dupree in original cast.

“Algy,” From “La Petit Jeune Homme,” a French play. Garrick Theatre, Chicago, October, 1908. Vesta Tilley and Edward Abeles in original cast.

“Granny,” From the French. Lyceum Theatre, New York, October 24, 1904. Written for Mrs. G. H. Gilbert.

“Wolfville,” with Willis Stelie. From the stories by Alfred Henry Lewis. Broad Street Theatre, Philadelphia, 1905.

“The House of Mirth,” a dramatization of Edith Wharton’s novel of the same name, New York, 1905.

“Cousin Billy,” From “Le Voyage de M. Perichon,” by Eugene Labiche and Edonard Martin. Criterion Theatre, New York, January 2, 1905, written for Francis Wilson.

“Toddles,” From the French of Tristan Bernard and Andre Godfernaux. Savoy Theatre, New York, March 16, 1908. Sadle Martinot, John Barrymore, Oswald Yorke and Jeffreys Lewis in original cast.

“The Blue Mouse,” From the German, New York, 1908. Mabel Barrison in original cast.


Novels And Other Writings.


“The Knighting of the Twins,” a novel; 1889.

“A Wave of Life,” a novel; 1889.

“Some Correspondence and Six Conversations;” 1896.

“The Smart Set,” sketches and one-act plays; 1897.


The following plays by Fitch have been published in book form:

Beau Brummel

Nathan Hale

The Climbers

The Truth

Her Own Way

The Stubbornness of Geraldine

The Girl With the Green Eyes

This is as far as the enterprise of publishers has gone. It is to be hoped, however, that a complete edition of the Fitch plays will one day appear. Those that have been issued make extremely agreeable reading. Fitch had few literary graces, but he wrote straightforward, nervous, natural dialogue, and his dramas will stand for all time as repositories of the verbal vagaries of his day. He was a sharp observer, particularly of the so-called upper classes, and his slangy young women and elderly scandalmongers were drawn to the life.

“The City,” which is now on view in Baltimore, did not get to the stage until several months after his death, and it is probable that he would have made a number of changes in the manuscript had he lived. As it stands, the play has been vastly praised, and the admirers of Fitch are in the habit of saying that it disposes of much of the adverse criticism leveled at him during his lifetime. This criticism, as a rule, took the form of accusations that he was incapable of serious and indignant thought. That he was an extraordinarily alert and accurate observer was universally admitted, but it was urged against him that his observations extended no further than the surface.

In “The City,” we are told, we have his answer. Disdaining surface scratching, he goes to the depths and proves himself to be, in a memorable German phrase, one of the deepest-down-diving and most-mud-upbringing dramatists of the day. “The City” is a play of ideas, a thesis play. It is “strong.” It suggests the best work of Shaw, Pinero, Barker, Galsworthy, Sudermann, Hauptmann, Brieux, Bataille, Hervieu, Echegaray and Strondberg. It is in the movement. It sets us to thinking.

So we are, told. Personally, I don’t believe a word of it. It seems to me, indeed, that “The City” is no more a drama of ideas than “Rip Van Winkle,” There is, true enough, a lot of sophomoric talk in it about the effect of urban life upon the human soul, but that talk, it quickly appears, has little if anything to do with the play. It is merely thrown in for good measure—perhaps to fill gaps. The play itself is a commonplace melodrama of a type going back to the Middle Ages. Its central situation is Hannock’s discovery that he has married his own sister. What the city has to do with that discovery I am unable to perceive.

In the true play of ideas the author’s thesis is set forth by the dramatic action, which grows directly out of the idea and not by the mere elocution of the characters. Consider Ibsen’s “Ghosts,” for example. The idea here is that a woman who remains faithful to a dissolute husband is guilty of a crime. How is that idea conveyed to the audience? By the death of Oswald, to be sure. In other words, the principal scene of the play is indissolubly bound up with the idea. But in “The City” the principal scene has nothing whatever to do with the idea.

(Source: University of North Texas, Microfilm Collection) 

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