Harley Granville Barker

Plays by Harley Granville Barker

Agnes Colander - An Attempt at Life  

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

We should all have been taught more of life and less good manners

It is three years since Agnes, an artist, left her unfaithful husband Henry. Now he writes to her in her Kensington studio begging to reunite, but Agnes married young; her innocence has gone and her ambition and independence is growing. As she travels from London to France, Agnes finds herself torn between Otho, a worldly Danish artist and Alec, an infatuated younger suitor, between a longing to paint and be an independent woman and a yearning to be loved.

This witty and compelling exploration of love, sexual attraction and independence was written in 1900 and unearthed among Granville Barker's papers in the British Library a century later. Revised by playwright and librettist Richard Nelson this edition was published to coincide with the world premiere at the Theatre Royal Bath in Spring 2018. 


Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A masterful short comic drama from Harley Granville Barker, Rococo is a chamber piece that trains its lens on family conflict, inheritance law and objets d’arts, refracting these issues through the prism of a Rococo vase which has made its way into the possession of the family via the Emperor of Germany and a recently deceased relative.

Rococo was given four matinée performances at the Court Theatre, London, in February 1911, then was presented at the Little Theatre, London, in October 1911, in a production directed by the playwright.

The Secret Life

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Secret Life depicts a world of disillusioned idealists, and demotivated power-brokers, as Granville Barker turns his eye to a subtle analysis of the torpor of the ruling classes struggling to remain purposeful in a Britain that’s been decimated by years of international war.

At the centre of this vacuum of ideas is Evan Strowde, a former politician who is half-heartedly writing a history of the Industrial Age at the same time as rebuffing efforts from his ex-colleagues to rejoin the Liberal party and even indeed the Cabinet.

His half-formed day to day life is populated by a series of frustrated relationships, from the son who has never been told he is his father, the ex-lover whom Evan never managed to marry, and the sister trying nobly to remain supportive of her brother even as he allows his principles to dissipate in a haze of almost good intentions.

Vote by Ballot

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Lord Silverwell, a former MP, has had to vacate his seat in the Commons. What had been a safe seat for generations, now becomes vulnerable, even with Lord Silverwell’s son, Noel, contesting it for the party. Luckily, Lord Silverwell’s trusted aide Lewis is on hand to provide guidance and expertise. Will that be enough to secure the seat, and the politics of this closeknit group of power-brokers.Vote by Ballot was presented by the Stage Society for two matinées at the Court Theatre, London, on 16 and 17 December 1917.

The Voysey Inheritance

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Financial chicanery and ethical concerns conflict in this early twentieth-century classic.

Edward’s highly principled world is turned upside down when his father reveals that he has been illegally speculating with clients’ money. To make matters worse, he soon discovers his large, scandal-fearing family would perpetuate the crime rather than risk public dishonour.

This magnificently observed, hugely enjoyable portrait of an upper-middle-class family was written by Granville Barker, just ten years before the First World War finally sent old values flying.

The play was first staged at the Court Theatre, London, in November 1905.

audio The Voysey Inheritance

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

In this surprisingly modern psychological portrait, a prosperous Edwardian family is torn apart when young Edward Voysey discovers that his family’s wealth was obtained through three generations of deceit and theft. A captivating study of turn-of-the-century morals.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Suzan Crowley, Kenneth Danziger, Diana Douglas, Arabella Field, Robin Gammell, Paul Gutrecht, Arthur Hanket, Robert Machray, Christopher Neame, Judith Owen, Serena Scott Thomas and Paxton Whitehead.

Featuring: Suzan Crowley, Kenneth Danziger, Diana Douglas, Arabella Field, Robin Gammell, Paul Gutrecht, Arthur Hanket, Robert Machray, Christopher Neame, Judith Owen, Serena Scott Thomas, Paxton Whitehead


Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Backstage at a hung parliament, visionary Independent Henry Trebell is co-opted by the Tories to push through a controversial Bill. Pursuing his cause with missionary zeal, he’s barely distracted by his brief affair with a married woman until she suffers a lethal backstreet abortion. Threatened by public scandal, the Establishment closes ranks and coolly seals the fate of an idealistic man.

Famously banned by the censors in 1907, Harley Granville Barker’s controversial masterpiece gathers a large ensemble to expose a cut-throat, cynical world of sex, sleaze and suicide amongst the political elite of Edwardian England.Waste was first presented by the Stage Society at the Imperial Theatre, Westminster, UK, on 24 November 1907, in a production directed by the playwright.

Harley Granville Barker (1877-1946) was the most brilliant British director of the first quarter of the twentieth century. His best known plays, including Waste (banned by the Lord Chamberlain), were written as contributions to his Company's repertoire of provocative modern drama for a subsidised national theatre, a cause he championed in his book A National Theatre: Scheme and Estimates. Waste was first presented by the Stage Society in 1907, before being revised and produced at the Westminster Theatre in 1936. Other plays include The Madras House, first produced at Duke of York's Theatre, 1910; The Secret Life; and His Majesty, which received its first production at the Edinburgh International Festival by Orange Tree Theatre Company in 1992.