Catalogue description Papers of EDWARD ROSE (1849-1904) dramatist and critic

This record is held by Cambridge University Library: Department of Manuscripts and University Archives

Details of Add.MS9526
Reference: Add.MS9526
Title: Papers of EDWARD ROSE (1849-1904) dramatist and critic

The surviving correspondence contains many letters from actors, actresses and theatre managers, about current productions for the London stage, and for tours in the provinces. A few letters mention the production of Rose's plays in the USA. There are letters from hopeful authors offering their novels for dramatization, from people agreeing or declining to lecture to the Playgoers' Club, and from friends wanting theatre tickets. Two owners of stately homes (Lord Barnard and Lord Donington) wrote in connection with Rose's articles in the Illustrated London News. Rose's Fabian interests are shown by letters from Sidney Webb about the scholarships he was endowing. An unexpected correspondent was the African traveller Mary Kingsley, who was evidently a friend of Mrs Rose. The papers also contain a folder of miscellaneous biographical and theatre items.

Date: ?1886-1981
Held by: Cambridge University Library: Department of Manuscripts and University Archives, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Rose, Edward, 1849-1904, dramatist and critic

Physical description: 237 files
Administrative / biographical background:

Edward Rose was born at Swaffham, Norfolk, on 7 August 1849, the son of a medical doctor, Caleb Rose, and Isabella Morse. His grandfather, Caleb Burrell Rose, was a surgeon and geologist, and there were other surgeons, as well as clergymen, among previous generations of the family. Edward was educated at Islington Proprietary School and Ipswich Grammar School, and also spent time in Scotland and Wales. In 1868 he was articled with the firm of Cobbold and Yarrington, solicitors of Ipswich, but after passing the Intermediate Examination he left the law for literature and moved to London in 1872.


He had already written comedies and a pantomime for the theatre in Ipswich, and his first London work was a one-act comedy called Our Farm, produced at the Queen's Theatre in 1871. He went on to write several dozen stage works, ranging from romantic drama to farce, and himself acted in many of them, specializing in comic roles. His greatest successes, however, were adaptations of other people's stories, notably Vice Versa by F. Anstey (T.A. Guthrie) in 1883, The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope (A. H. Hawkins) in January 1896, and Under the Red Robe by Stanley Weyman in October 1896.


Rose was also a journalist, writing for the Illustrated London News for some twenty years, including a series on 'English Homes', illustrated by G. Montbard. He was a theatre critic - a notably kindly one - and a member and Vice-President of the Playgoers Club. Towards the end of his life he published an educational book: The Rose Reader, a new way of teaching to read (London 1902). He was a member of the Fabian Society, and took an active interest in the founding of Letchworth Garden City.


Rose married Elizabeth Ann Gould (b.1862) and had two daughters: the older one, Lucy, died at the age of ten in 1898, and in her memory Rose endowed a scholarship for a Board School Girl, and a research post at the London School of Economics. His younger daughter, Dorothy (b.1889), married Oliver Thornycroft. Rose died on 31 December 1904.


Rose's papers remained with his descendants: some were sold at Sotheby's in New York on 6 May 1981, and some may have been sold or otherwise disposed of previously. There were originally letters from George Bernard Shaw, Max Beerbohm, Arthur Pinero, and his collaborators Stanley Weyman and Anthony Hope Hawkins. The remaining papers were presented to Cambridge University Library in 1998 by Rose's granddaughter Kate M. Field (née Thornycroft).

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