Did He Steal It?

Did He Steal It?

Did He Steal It?

Did He Steal It?

Excerpt

In 1850 an unsuccessful novelist sat down and wrote a play. He worked over it as conscientiously as he could, and hopefully sent the result, which he called The Noble Jilt, to a manager. But let him tell the story himself:

"I believe that I did give the best of my intellect to the play, and I must own that when it was completed it pleased me much. I copied it, and re-copied it, touching it here and touching it there, and then sent it to my very old friend, George Bartley the actor, who had when I was in London been stage-manager of one of the great theatres, and who would I thought, for my own sake and for my mother's, give me the full benefit of his professional experience.

"I have now before me the letter which he wrote to me,--a letter which I have read a score of times. It was altogether condemnatory. . . . a blow in the face! But I accepted the judgment loyally, and said not a word on the subject to any one."

However painful the criticism, the work was not destroyed. In 1863, when Anthony Trollope had become one of the most popular authors in England, he thriftily exhumed his Noble Jilt, and from its dry bones constructed the excellent novel Can You Forgive Her? It is important to observe that he added a new element: ". . . that which endears the book to me is the first presentation which I made in it of Plantagenet Palliser, with his wife, Lady Glencora"--and to these figures the book owes much of its attractiveness. The greater scope permitted by the length of a sprawling novel was always to improve his work.

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