Planché, James Robinson

Planché, James Robinson (1796–1880)

(pop culture)

James Robinson Planché, popular British dramatist, produced his first successful burlesque at the age of twenty-two. That production launched a career that, while centering on the writing and translating of various dramas (most of a comedic nature), found him working in many varied capacities. Thus, for many of the plays on which he worked, he was the producer, manager, and/or costume designer. In addition, he occasionally wrote libretti for operas and songs for vaudeville.

Planché became involved in the world of vampires in 1820 in response to their popularity on the French stage following Charles Nodier‘s production of Le Vampire. He adapted Nodier’s play for the London stage. The Vampire or The Bride of the Isles, opened at the Lyceum Theater on August 9, 1820. Because the theater had a ready collection of Scottish clothing, Planché set the action in Scotland (one land not readily associated with vampires). The play was most remembered, however, for the trap door though which the vampire, Lord Ruthven (played by Thomas Potter Cooke), could disappear. It became known in the theater as the “vampire trap.” The many-faceted Planché had a lifelong interest in heraldry, and many consider his The History of British Costumes (1834) his most permanent contribution. His writing was a strong influence on W.S. Gilbert (of the team Gilbert and Sullivan).


Glut, Don. The Dracula Book. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1975. 388 pp.
Kunitz, Stanley J., ed. British Authors of the Nineteenth Century. New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1936. 677 pp.
Planché, J. R. Plays. edited by Donald Roy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986., pp. 43–68.
———. Recollections and Reflections. 2 vols. London: Tinsley Brother, 1872.
———. The Vampire or, The Bride of the Isles. London: John Lownes, 1820.
Stuart, Roxana. Stage Blood: Vampires of the 19th-Century Stage. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1994. 377 pp.
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