Edmund Falconer (1814-79)


Life
[pseud. and stage-name of Edmund O’Rourke; var. Edmond;] b. Dublin; published a long poem, Man’s Mission: A Pilgrimage to Glory’s Goal (1852); full-length verse play The Cagot or Heart for Heart, being a dramatization of John Banim (Lyceum, 6 Dec. 1856); wrote several librettos for Michael Balfe, commencing with The Rose of Castile (1857), in collaboration with Augustus Harris; his “Lily of Killarney” set to music by Benedict [var. Balfe]; manager of the Lyceum Theatre with Ben Webster from August 1858 to 1859, and again [unknown if with Webster] from 1861 to 1862, an arrangement which made him 13,000 by 1862;
 
launched his career as a dramatist with The Cagot; or, Heart for Heart (Lyceum, 6 Dec. 1856), a five-act verse drama prod. by Charles Dillon, mgr.; followed with Husband for an Hour (Haymarket, June 1857); played Danny Mann in Boucicault’s The Colleen Bawn (Adephi Th., 18 July 1860); produced a number of his own plays as manager at the Lyceum; wrote Peep o’ Day; or, Savoureen Deelish (Adephi Th., 9 Nov. 1861-Dec. 1862), a stage-version of John Banim’s novels John Doe and The Nowlans which contained a scene in which the heroine is saved from live-burial; using his Lyceum profits of £13,000, he became joint-lessee of Drury Lane Th. with Frederick Balsir Chesterton, 1862-66; issued long poems The Bequest of My Boyhood (1863), and O’Ruark’s Bride: The Blood Speck in the Emerald (1865);
 
he dramatised Lever’s Charles O’Malley for Drury Lane as Galway Go Bragh, himself playing the role of Mickey Free; opened Her Majesty’s Theatre, Haymarket with Oonagh (Nov. 1866), closing in ten days; attempted to popularise Shakespeare at Drury Lane with productions of Macbeth, As You Like It, Henry IV and Romeo and Juliet, and lost heavily for want of audiences; retired from Drury Lane management, Sept. 1866; declared bankrupt and imprisoned; travelled to America, acting and writing for about three years, and appearing in New York, 1867; admired by Mark Twain; m. a third wife in America;
 
he returned to London with his young wife in 1871 following the success of his play A Wife Well Won, staged in his absence at Haymarket in that year; had several successful productions afterwards including Eileen Oge, or Dark the Hour Before Dawn (Princess Th., Nov., 1871) - incls. his song “Killarney” - later sung successfully by John McCormack, but died penniless; d. 29 Sept. 1879 in his house in 28 Keppel St., Russell Square, London; bur. Kensal Green Cemetary, the funeral being paid by a Savage Club subscription. PI ODNB DIB DIW OCIL

 

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Works
Plays, The Cagot; or, Heart for Heart (London: J. Mitchell [1856]); The Husband of an Hour (NY: Samuel French 1857; Boston: W. V. Spencer [1857]; London: T. H. Lacy [n.d.]); The Rose of Castile (London: Cramer [1857]; Philadelphia: Ledger Job Printing Office 1867) [opera composed by Michael Balfe, libretto by Edmund Falconer and Augustus Harris]; Satanella; or, The Power of Love (London: Published and sold in the theater, [1858]) [opera composed by Michael Balfe, libretto by Falconer with Harris - see note]; Extremes; or, Men of the Day (London: T. H. Lacy [n.d.]; NY: Samuel French [1858]; Victorine (London: Published and sold in the theater [1859]) [libretto to 3-act opera composed by Alfred Mellon]; Chrystabelle; or, The Rose Without a Thorn (London: T. H. Lacy [1860]); The Family Secret (London: T. H. Lacy [1860]); Next of Kin (London: T. H. Lacy [1860]); Ruy Blas (London: T. H. Lacy [1860]) [after Victor Hugo]; Too Much for Good Nature (London: T. H. Lacy; NY: Samuel French [1860]; Peep o’ Day; or, Savourneen Deelish (Chicago: Dramatic [1861]; NY: Samuel French [1867]; Eileen Oge; or, Dark’s the Hour before the Dawn (Chicago: Dramatic 1876; London: T. H. Lacy [n.d.]; rep. London/NY: Samuel French [n.d.]; Does He Love Me? (London: T. H. Lacy [n.d.]; London: Samuel French [n.d.]); and Galway-go-Bragh [q.d.].

The Power of Love. Ballad. Sung by Miss Louise Pyne, / In the Romantic Opera / Santanella, / or the Power of Love. Words by E. Falconer / Music by M. W. Balfe. Price Two Shillings (Melbourne: Joseph Wilkie 15 Collins St., East.
 
“The Power of Love”
“My-self once more, the Page I cease to play; All woman now, My soul resumes her sway; Through conscious love his wakeful hear denies, In dreamful visions let me charm his eyes! One blissful moment in my true form seen; Be love enthron'd His fancy worshipp'd, worshipp'd queen! // There's a power whose sway angel souls adore; And the lost obey, weeping ever more. Doubtful mortals prize [....] no! no! Language cannot tell they power, oh! love!”
-Available at National Library of Australia, online; accessed 21.11.2010 [via Falconer article in Wikipedia].  

 

Poetry, Man’s Mission: A Pilgrimage to Glory’s Goal (London: Bolton 1852; rep. 1865); Memories, the Bequest of My Boyhood (London: Tinsley 1863); Murmurings in the May and Summer of Manhood [ ... &c.] (London: [q.pub.] 1865); O’Ruark’s Bride: The Blood Speck in the Emerald (1865).

See his songs in collaboration with Michael Balfe under Balfe, supra.

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Criticism
Stephen Watt, Joyce, O’Casey, and the Irish Popular Theatre (Syracuse UP 1991), pp.73-74 [infra].

There is a very able Wikipedia article on Falconer with much emphasis on his theatrical history online - accessed 21.11.2010.

Note: This includes num. bibliographical references incl. a review of Peep o’ Day revival as ‘The Week at the Theaters; Romantic Irish Drama Bravely Holds Its Own [.. etc.], in The New York Times (7 Oct. 1894) - online [1 May 2010; extant 21.11.2010]. Other citations refer to some to PGIL EIRData and The Cambridge Hisotry of Irish Literature (1996). Internet pages on Falconer cited incl. Angelfire [online]

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Commentary
Mark Twain: “Letter from Mark Twain” [from Hartford, Conn.], in San Francisco Alta California ( 6 Sept. 1868), writes of Lotta, an actress, appearing in The Fire-Fly: ‘She is aptly typical of that luminous and erratic insect, glancing and gleaming in the night air of summer. The fact the new drama in which she will appear comes from the practiced pen of Mr. Edmund Falconer, is a guarantee of its theatrical merit. The Fire-Fly is the novelty of the week, moreover, in theatrical life, and public attention naturally centres upon it. Mr. Moss, the manager, is understood to have got up the new play with uncommon care. Should it prove a success, it will undoubtedly run along till the close of the summer season.’ (Available online; accessed 21.11.2010.)

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Stephen Watt, Joyce, O’Casey, and the Irish Popular Theatre (Syracuse UP 1991), pp.73-74, notes that Edmund Falconer’s Peep o’Day (1861) ‘continues the flow of pardons for nationalist insurgents, this time awarded at the close of the play by a yet another gracious British officer. Harry Kavenaugh, the leader of the rebels ... wins not only a pardon but also the hand of Mary Grace because of his ‘noble conduct’ in laying down his arms’. Further, ‘[T]he comic endings rely heavily on a resolution of British/Irish opposition.’ Finally notes that the myth of the Irish historical hero is not in evidence in the stage-Irishisms of Buckstone’s The Green Bushes and Falconer’s Eileen Oge (1871).

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References
D. J. O’Donoghue, Poets of Ireland (Dublin: Hodges Figgis & Co.1912), lists Edmond [sic] O’Rourke, Man’s Mission, a Pilgrimage to Glory’s Goal, anon. poem (1852); The Cagot, or Heart for Heart, 5 act verse play (1856); The Rose of Castile, libretto (1858); Chrystabelle, or the Rose Without a Thorn, extrav. in verse (185?); Victorine, libretto (1859); The Bequest of My Boyhood, poem (1863); Murmurings in the May and Summer o[f] Manhood; O’Ruark’s Bride, or the Bloo[d] Spark in the Emerald, and Man’s Mission (1865); in 1858 and 1861 directed Lyceum Theatre, where many of his plays were produced.

Allardyce Nicoll, A History of English Drama 1660-1900 [2nd edn.] (Cambridge UP 1959), Vol. 5, lists Falconer’s first productions, many of which remain unpublished. [Note that some Flaconer plays are available in microform.]

Robert Hogan, ed., Towards a National Theatre, Dramatic Criticism of Frank Fay (Dublin: Dolmen 1970), p.109: Edmund Falconer, actually Edmund O’Rourke, was the original actor in the part of Danny Mann; he also wrote Eileen Oge, or Dark the Hour Before Dawn, played in 1871; also Peep o’Day or Savourneen Deelish, based on Banim’s John Doe and the Nowlans, played Nov. 1861-Dec.1862, it contains a sensation scene in which the heroine is saved from being buried alive. Note Falconer’s Peep o’ Day, cited in calendar of Hogan , ed., Dictionary of Irish Literature (1979), and contemporaneous with Eugene O’Curry’s Manuscript materials of Ancient Irish History (1861).

Seamus Deane, ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 2, cites The Lily of Killarney (1862) by Julius Benedict (1804-85).

Belfast Central Public Library holds Extremes [n.d.]; Memories (1863); Murmurings in the May and Summer of Manhood (1865).

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