Regarded by Bernard Shaw as a master of the theatre, Dion Boucicault was arguably the most important figure in drama in North America and in Britain during the second half of the nineteenth century. He was largely forgotten during the twentieth century-though he continued to influence popular culture (the iconic image of a woman tied to railway tracks as a train rushes towards her, for example, originates in a Boucicault melodrama). In the twenty-first century the gripping nature of his plays is being discovered afresh; when The Octoroon was produced as a BBC Radio play in 2012, director and playwright Mark Ravenhill described Boucicault's dramas as ""the precursors to Hollywood cinema.""
In The Octoroon-the most controversial play of his career-Boucicault addresses the sensitive topic of race and slavery. George Peyton inherits a plantation and falls in love with an octoroon-a person one-eighth African American, and thus, in 1859 Louisiana, legally a slave. The Octoroon opened in 1859 in New York City, just two years prior to the American Civil War, and created a sensation-as it did in its subsequent British production.
This new edition includes a wide range of background contextual materials, an informative introduction and extensive annotation.
Dion Boucicault (1820-1890), who was sometimes referred to as the "Irish Shakespeare", wrote or adapted over 100 plays. Sarika Bose, a Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of British Columbia, specialises in Victorian drama.
Acknowledgements Introduction The Octoroon Appendix A: American Reviews and Commentaries Appendix B: British Reviews and Commentaries Appendix C: Letters to Editors Concerning Lawsuit Appendix D: Boucicault's Letters to Editors Concerning the Play's Subject Matter Appendix E: Alternative Endings Appendix F: Documents Concerning Slavery Works Cited and Recommended Reading