In his best known social drama, Arthur Wing Pinero attacks the hypocrisy and myth surrounding women in second marriages. Despite the warnings of his friends, the widowed Mr. Tanqueray chooses to marry a lower class woman with a scandalous history. The new Mrs. Tanqueray must struggle to win over her new stepdaughter as she attempts to find balance in her mismatched marriage.
The Second Mrs. Tanqueray expertly utilizes the melodramatic convention of the Woman with a Past to examine the social and gender politics of late Victorian England. The play’s premiere in 1893 made its lead actress, Paula Campbell, a star.