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Public Amusements for the Week

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 3 months ago


Public Amusements of the Week.” Lloyd’s Weekly London Newspaper (23 Jan 1848): 6.



Royal Standard Theatre


(Facing the Railway, Shoreditch.)



Under the Direction of Messrs. Johnson and Nelson Lee.

First night of Mr. Nelson Lee’s new drama of peril, taken from proof sheets,

by permission of E. Lloyd. Esq., publisher of the work. This

drama is for all the land – for the scholar, the mechanic, the mer-

chant, and the lover. To the ladies of our country it presents an

especial interest. The authorities from which the incidents are taken

it is at present unnecessary to name – suffice it to say, that a volumi-

nous package of letters and various loose memoranda have been

placed by the publisher in the hands of the author, who is highly

gratified in being able to present to the public a drama devoted to

the consecration of incident, and pourtraying a faithful picture of

life in the Quaker city.


TO-MORROW, and during the Week, a new Drama,


which Messrs. H, Howard, C. J. Bird, Fredericks, Lee, Grant, Miss

E. Clayton, Mrs. Loveday, and Miss Martin will appear – After which,


an Interlude, entitled THE SECRET SPRING, with Mr. T. Lee in

a new Irish character – The whole is to conclude with the grand Panto-


Acting-Manager, Mr. Nelson Lee – Stage Manager, Mr. C. J. Bird.

Boxes, 1s; Pit, 6d; Gallery, 3c.



The Quaker City's Publication History in England


George Lippard (Fig. 1) first published The Quaker City, or the Monks of Monk Hall in serial form in the fall of 1844 through the early part of 1845. In May 1845 the complete novel was first published in one volume in the U.S (Lippard xii). 

Fig 1: George Lippard daguerreotype ca. 1850-54. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Two years later the first appearance of an ad in Lloyd’s Weekly for The Quaker City seems to be October 17, 1847. Lloyd’s Weekly was one of the London penny papers in print at the time, and a fairly traditional example of the species; in the same issue as the first ad for The Quaker City, for instance, we can find stories on an attempted jailbreak in Marlborough, a sea serpent in Ireland, and a “horrible murder of a wife by her husband,” which describes in exacting detail the circumstances by which an alcoholic, violent innkeeper came to slit his wife’s throat with a knife he had just been using to peel potatoes. Lloyd’s Weekly would eventually go on to become the first London newspaper to surpass the one million circulation mark, though it eventually shuttered its doors in 1931.


There is some reason to believe that George Purkess, listed in the early Lloyd’s ads as the publisher of The Quaker City, and Edward Lloyd, publisher of the Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, were partners or otherwise had some financial relationship involving publishing – an 1847 ad in The Hull Packet and East Riding Times, another penny paper, for Lloyd’s mentions both men as 

Fig. 2: Edward Lloyd, who began his career as a bookseller in Shoreditch, moved into publishing cheap "penny dreadful" novels in the mid-1930s when he discovered that most citizens of London could not afford the books published at that time.

publishers of Lloyd’s (“Advertisements”). (As a side note, the ad also offers additional evidence of transatlantic interaction; it mentions “arrangements” for publication in Lloyd’s with more than two dozen authors, among whom are James Fenimore Cooper, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Washington Irving.) The advertisement in The Hull Packet and East Riding Times seems to be the only evidence of advertising in another paper for Lloyd’s Weekly.


By 1847 Purkess had gained a wide reputation as a successful publisher of cheap fiction in addition to his serial Poor Man’s Guardian. Operating out of Soho, Purkess published both original and plagiarized works of sensational novels, including several works of Thomas Frost and William Ainsworth's The Life and Adventures of Jack Sheppard (Anglo 81). Lloyd (Fig. 2) began publishing penny fiction in 1835 from his Shorditch headquarters and, like Purkess, sold pirated works of popular writers in addition to a newspaper. Charles Dickens, in particular, was a favorite target of Lloyd as the latter published thinly-veiled titles such as The Sketch Book by 'Bos', Nicholas Nickleberry, Penny Pickwick, and Oliver Twiss (Anglo 76).


Purkess appears to have begun running weekly advertisements in Lloyd’s Weekly in the summer of 1847; the first of his instantly recognizable ads appears in the July 25, 1847, edition, and features The Corsair, The Rose Bud, and The Spirit Merchants’ and Innkeepers’ Reducing and Calculating Tabl. Similar advertisements appear on a nearly weekly basis thereafter, typically featuring between one and four titles. Apparently finding this sort of advertising effective, Purkess appears to have stepped up his commitment to the paper; the October 31, 1847 paper includes an ad for Purkess’ works that mentions nine separate titles, including The Quaker City. However, the last advertisement to include Purkess’ name in Lloyd’s Weekly appears on November 28, 1847; in December, Purkess’ titles appear in ads that do not list a publisher, but do specify “Edward Lloyd” as the payee of funds intended to purchase the listed works. The ads themselves change their appearance as well, shifting from a presentation wherein the first line of each title’s description appeared in much larger type, so as to emphasize the title of each work, to one in which only the very first listed work is so treated, and the titles of the rest are merely in capital letters.


It seems clear from the presentation of the advertisements in Lloyd’s that early demand and interest in The Quaker City was quite high – by mid-November, the Lloyd’s ads list The Mysteries of the Quaker City in first or second place, and the book receives at least two instances of special treatment. In the December 26, 1847 issue, one entire column of the advertising section is devoted to an excerpt from the book – only one other similar instance occurs in the paper between January 1847 and December 1848. In the January 16, 1848, issue, ads actually appear for The Quaker City twice – once in a typical title listing, much as it had for several weeks prior, and again in an individual entry, which trumpets the success of The Quaker City and note that the success has “induced the Publisher to have a duplicate copy set up in type,” an announcement that appears to be without precedent elsewhere in the paper. Later in 1848 Purkess published The Quaker City in one volume as Dora Livingstone, the Adulteress; or The Quaker City.



The Quaker City's Theatrical Productions


In November 1844, soon after the first appearance of Quaker City in publication, Lippard wrote a play based on the novel and scheduled a performance with the Chestnet Street Theater in Philadelphia. Due to public protests from a prominent citizen who felt wrongly portrayed in the novel, Francis Wemyss, the theater's manager, canceled the the performance before the curtain went up on opening night. No other theatrical performance of The Quaker City is known to have been produced in the U.S.


In London on January 23, 1847, the Royal Standard Theatre’s announcement appeared, barely three months after the first advertisement for The Quaker City was printed in Lloyd

Fig. 3: The front entrance to the Royal Standard Theatre in 1851. Image courtesy of the Rose Lipman Library.

’s Weekly.


Lloyd’s ran theater criticism as well as public theater announcements and regular ads, and it is through the critical column that we begin to see just how widespread the Quaker City phenomenon was. The Royal Standard Theatre (Fig. 3) was apparently joined in the first week of February, 1848, by the Queen’s Theatre in running a play called “The Mysteries of the Quaker City; or, I Wonders How That’ll Work,” according to the “Public Amusements for the Week” column in the January 30, 1848, issue.

Fig. 4: Veteran London actor John Parry who portrayed Devil-Bug in the Queen's Theatre's production of The Mysteries of the Quaker City. Image courtesy of the Rose Lipman Library.


The “Theatricals” column of the February 6, 1848, issue reads in part, “THE QUEEN’S is doing good business; a new drama, called ‘The Mysteries of the Quaker City,’ was produced on Monday. It is in all respects very effective, and promises to have a long run. … At the STANDARD, the management has also produced a dramatic version of ‘The Mysteries of the Quaker City.’ It has been got up in the best possible style, and is likely to run as successful a career as ‘The Mysteries of Paris’ did at the same theatre” (“Theatricals”). Note the connection to the work by Eugene Sue, who wrote The Mysteries of Paris and founded what has been called the “city mysteries” genre, of which The Quaker City is undoubtedly a part. The reworking of the American title to more closely resemble Sue’s work is surely not a coincidence, and speaks to the likely popularity of The Mysteries of Paris in London


Another, more detailed description of the plays appears in the newspaper The Era; though it only gives details about the production at the Queen’s Theatre, it does mention the author, Nelson Lee, and so we can safely assume that it is the same as the Royal Standard’s production. The play’s plot apparently follows the Arlington/Lorrimer portion of The Quaker City; the outline given in The Era does not mention the Dora Livingstone or mesmerist plotlines at all. New characters appear, however, including one named Tom Shakespeare, apparently a descendent of the Bard, transported to the New World as part of the adaptation, and another called Sukey Skyblue. The Era describes the comic elements as "keeping the audience alive by their fun” (“Theatres’”). Clearly, this is not quite the Quaker City that we know.


Fig. 5: London theater owner Nelson Lee, who produced and directed the play The Mysteries of The Quaker City. Image courtesy of the Rose Lipman Library.

Richard Nelson Lee (1807-1872) (Fig. 5), the director and author of The Quaker City play, began his theater career against the wishes of his parents (who’d hoped for him a naval career) by becoming acquainted with the players at the Victoria Theater. He did his apprenticeship as an actor, and then worked at Richardson’s Booth at the fair and for the company at Elliston’s Surrey Theater. At this time he also began to write pantos.


Nelson Lee, by which he was called, partnered with John Johnson (?-1864) in 1837 to manage the Booth after Richardson’s death. After having some success, they also leased the Marylebone, and the Pavilion, before undertaking the management of the Royal Standard Theater in 1845.


Lee was known to be an enterprising man, and after a fairly regular first season at the Standard, he and Johnson arranged for accommodations for circus and equestrian shows to take place during the summer season for which they were licensed. The season ran from May 15th to September 15th. The regular season was then the rest of the year. These additional shows provided revenue for the off season which increased Johnson and Lee’s capacity to attract better performers and productions, and, increased the reputation of the theater.


Despite the theater’s success, Lee and Johnson gave up their lease at the time of its expiration in 1848. They believed that the City of London Theater would provide for both a better building and location due to its size and proximity to town center. They remained at that theater for the next twenty years.


Timeline of The Quaker City Publications & Theatrical Productions


Fall 1844

Lippard begins serial publication of The Monks of Monk Hall or the Quaker City in the U.S.

May 1845 First one-volume edition of The Quaker City published in U.S.
Oct. 17, 1847 First London ad by Purkess & Lloyd for The Quaker City.
Jan. 23, 1848 Ad for the Royal Standard The Mysteries of the Quaker City play appears.
Jan. 31, 1848 Queen's Theater production of The Mysteries of the Quaker City begins.
1848 Purkess publishes Dora Livingstone, The Adulteress; or The Quaker City.



Works Cited


“Advertisements and Notices.” The Hull Packet and East Riding Times. 1 October 1847 (3271): 2.


Anglo, Michael. Penny Dreadfuls and Other Victorian Horrors. London: Jupiter, 1977.


Jackson, Allan Stuart. The Standard Theater of Victorian England. Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1993.


Lippard, George. The Quaker City; or, The Monks of Monk Hall. A Romance of Philadelphia Life, Mystery, and Crime. 1970. Ed. David S. Reynolds. Amherst: University of Massachesetts Press, 1995.


Public Amusements of the Week.” Lloyd’s Weekly London Newspaper (23 Jan 1848): 6.


“Theatres’ Etc.” The Era. 6 February 1848 (489): 11-12.


“Theatricals.” Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper. 6 February 1848 (272): 10.



Additional Reading & Research


A selection of George Lippard's papers can be found at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Newberry Library, the University of Virginia Library, and the Haverford College Library.


Three libraries list copies of George Purkess' 1848 London edition of Dora Livingstone, The Aldulteress in WorldCatthe British Library, the University of Michigan Library, and a microfilm repository in Gottingen, Germany (imaged from the British Library copy). In a recent inter-library loan request to the University of Michigan, their copy of Dora is apparently lost.





Project Group Members


 Member Name



 Adam Thomas-Brashier

University of Missouri-Kansas City

Eng. 5533

Jennifer Thompson

University of Missouri-Kansas City

Eng. 5533

Eric Ward

University of Missouri-Kansas City

Eng. 5533

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