Harley Granville-Barker

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Granville-Barker, Harley,

1877–1946, English dramatist, actor, producer, and critic. As comanager of the Court Theatre from 1904 to 1907 he was an advocate and producer of "uncommercial" and experimental theater in his time. Granville-Barker was the chief producer of the plays of new dramatists as well as those of the great masters; he presented the works of Euripides, Shakespeare, Schnitzler, Shaw, and Galsworthy. His own realistic dramas, including The Voysey Inheritance (1905), Waste (1907), and The Madras House (1910), were not remarkable successes. After 1918, he devoted himself almost entirely to writing, lecturing, and scholarship, and achieved literary distinction with his Prefaces to Shakespeare (6 vol. 1927–46).


See biography by C. B. Purdom (1956, repr. 1971); study by D. Kennedy (1985).

Granville-Barker, Harley


Born Nov. 25, 1877, in London; died Aug. 31, 1946, in Paris. English playwright, historian, and theater figure. One of the leaders of the Court Theater (beginning in 1904).

Granville-Barker contributed to the establishment on the stage of the plays of Shaw and Ibsen. His theoretical works, which were aimed against escapist, philistine drama and affirmed the principles of critical realism, included A National Theater (1907, with W. Archer), The Exemplary Theater (1922), and On Dramatic Method (1931). Granville-Barker’s most important work was Prefaces to Shakespeare (vols. 1–5, 1927–49). His plays The Marrying of Anne Leite (1901). The Voysey Inheritance (1905). Waste (1907). The Madras House (1910). and The Ballot Vote (1917) are realistic, slice-of-life dramas.


The Secret Life. London, 1923.
On Dramatic Method. New York. 1956.
Prefaces to Shakespeare, vols. 1–2. London [1958].
The Voysey Inheritance: A Play. [London, 1959.]


Henderson, A. European Dramatists [5th ed.]. New York, 1926.


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Morgan, A Drama of Political Man: A Study in the Plays of Harley Granville Barker (London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1961), 96.
Salenius, Harley Granville Barker (Boston: Twayne, 1982), 33.
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Morgan argues in "Edwardian Feminism and the Drama: Shaw and Granville Barker," both Ann and Candida "represent traditional, decorous 'womanly' women, though [Shaw] attributes to them more strength of character and greater practical competence than their men-folk possess" (Cahiers victoriens & edouardiens 9/10 [1979]: 63-85 [66]).
Biographer and scholar Eric Salmon, editing a letter written by Harley Granville Barker, fusses over what he calls a mysterious "momentary aberration, or even a slip of the pen" on the playwright's part.