Playbill for The Theatre Royal, Adelphi advertising Nicholas Nickleby, 1838


Nicholas Nickleby was the third novel by Charles Dickens, first published serially in 1838–39. As with earlier works by the author such as The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist, an independent stage adaptation quickly came out.

This is the original playbill from the Theatre Royal, Adelphi, London, for the premiere production of Nicholas Nickleby in November 1838. The noted actress Mary Ann Keeley (1805–1899) played Smike. Dickens is still referred to by his evidently better-recognised pen name ‘Boz’.

Such adaptations appeared without Dickens’s involvement or approval. After what would now be called theft of intellectual property, when the prolific playwright William Thomas Moncrieff (1794–1857) stole characters and plots from the Pickwick Papers for a stage drama, Dickens responded by satirising him as ‘Mr Crummles’ in Nicholas Nickleby, described as having dramatised 247 novels ‘as fast as they came out – some of them faster’. Moncrieff responded by dramatising Nicholas Nickleby.

Full title:
Original playbill for The Theatre Royal, Adelphi. Advertising Nicholas Nickleby, Tuesday, November 20th, 1838 and during the week. [from the author's presentation copy of The Life of Dickens, 1872-74]
November 1838, London
Advertisement / Ephemera / Playbill / Illustration / Image
The Theatre Royal, Adelphi, John Forster [compiler]
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Dex.316. - Vol I, part II

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