Henry Arthur Jones Collection

Scope and Content

This collection consists of manuscripts (articles, lectures and speeches) notes and other written work, published output, correspondence between Jones and his family and acquiantances, photographs of Jones and his family, programmes and playbills related to his dramatic works and collected items of ephemera.

Administrative / Biographical History

Henry Arthur Jones (1851-1929) was an English dramatist and author. The son of a farmer, he was withdrawn from school at the age of 12 to begin working as a draper with his uncle. Following this he worked for a time as a commercial traveller. It wasn’t until the age of 27 that a dramatic work of his was first produced at a theatre. Only Round the Corner was staged in 1878 at the Exeter Theatre, swiftly followed by Hearts of Oak in 1879 at the same venue. The same year saw his first London staging; A Clerical Error, at the Court Theatre.

Gaining a commission from the manager of the Court he collaborated with Henry Herman on The Silver King, which was produced at the Princess’s Theatre in 1882 and was his first major success. A second collaboration with Herman resulted in Breaking a Butterfly (Prince’s, 1884), an English version of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Other significant works include Saints and Sinners, (Vaudeville, 1884), The Middleman (Shaftesbury, 1889), Judah (Shaftesbury, 1890) and The Dancing Girl starring Herbert Beerbohm Tree (Haymarket, 1891), The Bauble Shop (produced by Charles Wyndham at the Criterion, 1993) The Case of Rebellious Susan (Criterion, 1894), Michael and his Lost Angel (Lyceum, 1896), The Liars (Criterion, 1898), Mrs Dane’s Defense (Wyndham’s Theatre, 1900), Mary Goes First (Playhouse, 1913) and The Lie (New Theatre, 1923).

Jones visited the USA a number of times during his career, eventually building a reputation as a dramatist and receiving an honorary degree at Harvard University. He also maintained a secondary career as an author and public speaker. He wrote two volumes on the theatre; The Renascence of the English Drama and The Foundations of a National Drama and spent his final years attacking the political views of George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells in print.

Having lost his wife Jane Seeley in 1924, he spent the last years of his life living with his daughter and secretary Doris. He died at home in 1929 after years of ill-health.


This collection has been organised into the following series:

  • THM/154/1 - Manuscripts of written work
  • THM/154/2 - Notebooks
  • THM/154/3 - Printed essays and pamphlets
  • THM/154/4 - Film scenarios
  • THM/154/5 - Correspondence
  • THM/154/6 - Images and photographs
  • THM/154/7 - Theatre programmes and playbills
  • THM/154/8 - Interview transcripts
  • THM/154/9 - Notes on an unpublished thesis on Henry Arthur Jones
  • THM/154/10 - Materials relating to the death of Henry Arthur Jones
  • THM/154/11 - Materials relating to the Jones family
  • THM/154/12 - Newspaper and periodicals cuttings
  • THM/154/13 - Henry Arthur Jones collection lists
  • THM/154/14 - Menu cards

Access Information

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only. Full details of access arrangements may be found here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/.

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Acquisition Information

This collection consists of the two separate acquisitions; both gifts of the granddaughters of Henry Arthur Jones in 1956 and 1957.

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/.

Appraisal Information

This collection was appraised in line with the collection management policy.

The following items have been removed and added to the library collections:

Play manuscripts

  • A Bed of Roses, 1881
  • A Clerical Error, 1879
  • Cherry Ripe, undated
  • Fall in Rookies, 1910
  • Felisa, undated
  • Her Tongue, 1909
  • Home Again, undated
  • Honour Bright, 1879
  • Ingram, undated
  • James the Fogey, 1902
  • James the Fogey, undated
  • The Knife, 1909
  • Loo Valance, 1909
  • Lydia Gilmore, 1911
  • The Ogre, 1910
  • The Peony, undated
  • The Perfect Pacifist, undated
  • The Rogue’s Comedy, 1896
  • Sophie, 1909
  • Tom Tobin, Policeman, 1921
  • Venetia Superba, undated
  • Venturesome Naomi, undated
  • We Can’t be as Bad as all That, 1910
  • Untitled (fragment), 1910
  • Untitled, 1919
  • Untitled, 1922 (two drafts)
  • Untitled, undated
  • Untitled, undated (hardbound)

French play manuscripts

  • Les Menteurs (The Liars), undated
  • Michael et Son Ange Perdou (Michael and his Lost Angel), undated
  • Le Voile Soulevé (The Veil Lifted), undated

Printed play texts

  • The Crusaders, 1893
  • Mary Goes First, 1913
  • The Middleman, 1907
  • Mrs Dane’s Defence, 1900
  • The Rogue’s Gallery, 1896
  • The Sword of Gideon, 1905
  • Whitewashing Julia, 1903

Printed play text excerpt

  • The Wedding Guest, undated


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

See also the core collections of the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance. Material relating to Henry Arthur Jones may be found in the library collection (books, play manuscripts and pamphlets) as well as the biographical and productions files.

Please ask for details.