Authors: Arthur Wing Pinero

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

English playwright

Author Works


£200 a Year, pr. 1877

Two Can Play at That Game, pr. 1877

La Comète: Or, Two Hearts, pr. 1878

Daisy’s Escape, pr. 1879

Bygones, pr. 1880

Hester’s Mystery, pr. 1880

The Money Spinner, pr. 1880

Imprudence, pr. 1881

The Squire, pr., pb. 1881

Girls and Boys, pr. 1882

Lords and Commons, pr. 1883

The Rector, pr. 1883

The Rocket, pr. 1883

Low Water, pr. 1884

The Ironmaster, pr. 1884 (adaptation of George Ohnet’s play Le Maitre de forges)

In Chancery, pr. 1884

The Magistrate, pr. 1885

Mayfair, pr. 1885 (adaptation of Victorien Sardou’s play Maison neuve)

The Hobby Horse, pr. 1886

The School Mistress, pr. 1886

Dandy Dick, pr. 1887

Sweet Lavender, pr. 1888

The Weaker Sex, pr. 1888

The Profligate, pr. 1889

The Cabinet Minister, pr. 1890

Lady Bountiful, pr. 1891

The Times, pr., pb. 1891

The Plays of Arthur W. Pinero, pb. 1891-1915 (25 volumes)

The Amazons, pr. 1893

The Second Mrs. Tanqueray, pr. 1893

The Benefit of the Doubt, pr. 1895

The Notorious Mrs. Ebbsmith, pr., pb. 1895

The Princess and the Butterfly: Or, The Fantastics, pr. 1897

The Beauty Stone, pr., pb. 1898 (libretto, with J. Comyns Carr; music by Sir Arthur Sullivan)

Trelawny of the “Wells,” pr., pb. 1898

The Gay Lord Quex, pr. 1899

Iris, pr. 1901

Letty, pr. 1903

A Wife Without a Smile, pr. 1904

His House in Order, pr., pb. 1906

The Thunderbolt, pr. 1908

Mid-Channel, pr. 1909

Preserving Mr. Panmure, pr. 1911

The “Mind the Paint” Girl, pr. 1912

The Widow of Wasdale Head, pr. 1912

Playgoers, pr., pb. 1913

The Big Drum, pr., pb. 1915

Mr. Livermore’s Dream, pb. 1916

Social Plays, pb. 1917-1922 (4 volumes)

The Freaks: An Idyll of Suburbia, pr. 1918

Monica’s Blue Boy, pr. 1918 (ballet-pantomime; music by Frederick Cowen)

Quick Work, pr. 1919

A Seat in the Park, pr., pb. 1922

The Enchanted Cottage, pr., pb. 1922

A Private Room, pr., pb. 1928

Dr. Harmer’s Holiday, pr. 1930

A Cold June, pb. 1931

Three Plays, pb. 1985

Trelawny of the “Wells,” and Other Plays, pb. 1995


The Collected Letters of Sir Arthur Pinero, 1974 (J. P. Wearing, editor)


The career of Arthur Wing Pinero (pih-NIHR-oh) is deeply interesting to the historian of the English drama, for in his work can be seen the partial influence of Continental themes and ideas, from Victorien Sardou, the master of the well-made play, to Henrik Ibsen, the creator of the theater of ideas. In Pinero, for two decades, the English found their leading practitioner of these imported skills.{$I[AN]9810000421}{$I[A]Pinero, Arthur Wing}{$I[geo]ENGLAND;Pinero, Arthur Wing}{$I[tim]1855;Pinero, Arthur Wing}

Pinero was the son of a Jewish solicitor in London. With a private school education as a foundation, he read for the law in his father’s office but with no serious intentions of becoming a solicitor. At the age of nineteen he joined the Theatre Royal in Edinburgh, soon supplementing his bit-role acting by writing short dramatic pieces as supplements to longer plays. After the success of The Money Spinner he was able to devote his time to playwriting. Between 1885 and 1887 he wrote three successful farces for the Court Theatre in London. In these he presented “possible people doing improbable things”; that is, he shifted the emphasis from farcical situations to character.

This was a foreshadowing of his greater successes during the 1890’s, beginning with The Second Mrs. Tanqueray in 1893. In this play, and in those that followed, he added to his technically deft work themes and social insights that the public regarded as daring and thought-provoking. For two decades the English press and public regarded each new Pinero play as a likely source of controversy, for his plays usually amounted to a criticism of the current sexual patterns based, Pinero would have his audiences believe, on appearances rather than on sincere attraction and devotion. As a matter of fact, Pinero’s homegrown versions of the continental “problem plays” always contained incidents quite as shocking to contemporary taste as the slamming of the door at the end of Ibsen’s Et dukkehjem (pr., pb. 1879; A Doll’s House, 1880). In The Notorious Mrs. Ebbsmith, for example, the rebellious heroine momentarily throws the Holy Scriptures into the fire. Dramatic strokes like these won Pinero his temporary reputation as an iconoclast. He was knighted in 1909.

Pinero’s reputation waned, however, and during the last twenty years of his life he experienced the bitterness of seeing his fame and public dwindle. To audiences that began to respond to the plays of Eugene O’Neill and Sean O’Casey, Pinero’s representations of upper-class infidelity came to seem mannered and unreal. Of his more than fifty works, most were no longer produced or published. His last successful play, The Enchanted Cottage, is a strange blend of cynical realism and the delicate sentimentalism of J. M. Barrie. Whatever the fluctuating tastes of critical perception decide, it cannot be denied that Pinero measured shrewdly the taste of a generation.

BibliographyDawick, John. Pinero: A Theatrical Life. Niwot: University Press of Colorado, 1993. Dawick provides a look at Pinero’s long history with the theater. Contains bibliography and index.Griffin, Penny. Arthur Wing Pinero and Henry Arthur Jones. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991. Griffin examines English drama in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, focusing on a comparison of the works of Pinero and Henry Arthur Jones. Contains bibliography and index.Lazenby, Walter. Arthur Wing Pinero. New York: Twayne, 1972. A basic look at the life and works of Pinero. Contains bibliography.Shaw, George Bernard. Dramatic Opinions and Essays. 2 vols. New York: Brentano’s, 1907. These reviews, published when Shaw was still a drama critic, remain among the most perceptive ever written about Pinero. Despite Pinero’s extraordinary popularity, Shaw exposed the conventionality of the playwright’s ideas and his inability to come to grips with the situations he had created.
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