Ira Aldridge: Theatrical Trailblazer

Published script of The Black Doctor: A Romantic Drama in Four Acts, adapted into English by Ira Aldridge
Dicks’ Standard Plays, no. 460

crown octavo booklet, approx. 712 in. high; 18 pages

London: John Dicks, ca. 1883
Aldridge was also a playwright. He created his adaptation of the romantic melodrama The Black Doctor, based on the contemporary French play Le Docteur noir by Auguste Anicet-Bourgeois, around 1847. Aldridge himself played “Fabian,” the Black Doctor, a former slave who uses both medical knowledge and heroic strength to save the lives of many neighbors, including a white aristocratic woman named Pauline. They fall in love but their happiness is doomed by her disapproving family, false imprisonment, madness, and a series of other misfortunes. Interracial marriage was a fascinating topic to English audiences. While interracial couples often faced prejudice, the English did not have laws like those in America that made interracial marriage illegal. The topic had special relevance to Aldridge. His first wife, Margaret, was a white woman from northern England; after her death, he married a white Swedish opera singer named Amanda.

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