Jones, Henry Arthur

Jones, Henry Arthur

Jones, Henry Arthur, 1851-1929, English playwright. His reputation was first established with the melodrama The Silver King (with Henry Herman; 1882). Strongly influenced by the great Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, Jones turned to writing dramas of social and moral criticism. He was the author of over 60 plays, of which The Middleman (1889), Michael and His Lost Angel (1896), The Liars (1897), and Mrs. Dane's Defense (1900) are among the most important. His critical works include The Renascence of the English Drama (1895) and The Theatre of Ideas (1915).
Henry Arthur Jones (September 20, 1851January 7, 1929) was an English dramatist.


Jones was born at Granborough, Buckinghamshire to Silvanus Jones, a farmer. He began to earn his living early, his spare time being given to literary pursuits. He was twenty-seven before his first piece, Only Round the Corner, was produced at the Exeter Theatre, but within four years of his debut as a dramatist he scored a great success by The Silver King (November 1882), written with Henry Herman, a melodrama produced by Wilson Barrett at the Princess's Theatre, London. Its financial success enabled the author to write a play "to please himself."

Saints and Sinners (1884), which ran for two hundred nights, placed on the stage a picture of middle-class life and religion in a country town, and the introduction of the religious element raised considerable outcry. The author defended himself in an article published in the Nineteenth century (January 1885), taking for his starting-point a quotation from the preface to Molière's Tartuffe.

His next serious piece was The Middleman (1889), followed by Judah (1890), both powerful plays, which established his reputation.

Later plays

  • The Dancing Girl (1891),
  • The Crusaders (1891),
  • The Bauble Shop (1892?),
  • The Tempter (1893),
  • The Masqueraders (1894),
  • The Case of Rebellious Susan (1894),
  • The Triumph of the Philistines (1895),
  • Michael and his Lost Angel (1896),
  • The Rogue's Comedy (1896),
  • The Physician (1897),
  • The Liars (1897),
  • Carnac Sahib (1899),
  • The Manoeuvres of Jane (1899),
  • The Lackeys' Carnival (1900),
  • Mrs Dane's Defence (1900),
  • The Princess's Nose (1902),
  • Chance the Idol (1902),
  • Whitewashing Julia (1903),
  • Joseph Entangled (1904),
  • The Chevalier (1904),

A uniform edition of his plays began to be issued in 1891; and his own views of dramatic art have been expressed from time to time in lectures and essays, collected in 1895 as The Renaiscence of the English Drama.

Political Writings

Later in his life Henry Arthur Jones wrote a series of non-fiction articles "arguing from the right against H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw" .

One such work was My Dear Wells: a Manual for Haters of England (1921), a collection of open letters to H.G. Wells originally published in the New York Times. A sample of this work: "You unreservedly condemn and ridicule the cardinal Marxian doctrines. In this matter I congratulate you upon being in the company of thinkers of a higher cast than your usual associates and disciples. You tell us that although Marxian communism is stupidly, blindly wrong and mischievous, you you have an admiration and friendship for the men who have imposed it upon the Russian people to the infinite misery and impoverishment of the land.

Wells repeatedly declined to respond, as in this letter to the New York Times, in 1921: "I do not believe that Mr. Jones has ever read a line that I have written. But he goes on unquenchably, a sort of endless hooting. I would as soon argue with some tiresome, remote and inattentive foghorn" ; and later, in 1926, in the preface to Mr Belloc Objects: "For years I have failed to respond to Mr. Henry Arthur Jones, who long ago invented a set of opinions for me and invited me to defend them with an enviable persistence and vigour. Occasionally I may have corrected some too gross public mis-statement about me -- too often I fear with the acerbity of the inexperienced."

Another sample of Henry Arthur Jones political writing is his response to George Bernard Shaw's anti-war manifesto Common Sense About the War: "The hag Sedition was your mother, and Perversity begot you. Mischief was your midwife and Misrule your nurse, and Unreason brought you up at her feet - no other ancestry and rearing had you, you freakish homunculus, germinated outside of lawful procreation.

Further reading

"Taking The Curtain Call: The Life and Letters of Henry Arthur Jones" by Doris Arthur Jones


"There are three rules for writing plays," said Oscar Wilde. "The first rule is not to write like Henry Arthur Jones; the second and third rules are the same."


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