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Encyclopedia > The Maid of Arran

The Maid of Arran is an 1882 musical play by L. Frank Baum, writing and performing under the pseudonym, "Louis F. Baum", based on the novel A Princess of Thule by William Black. The play resets the novel from Scotland to Ireland (although Arran is actually in Scotland--Baum probably meant Aran, but never changed it). This was a well-received melodrama with elaborate stage effects, including a storm upon a ship, and an original score by Baum himself. Unfortunately, only the songbook for home use survives, which omits two of the songs referenced in the script (the manuscript did not include the lyrics). Baum played the main character, Hugh Holcomb, originally called Frank Lavender in the novel, in its initial tour (including two stints on Broadway), and later played Con. O' Mara, the heroine's father, in a community theatre revivial. 1882 (MDCCCLXXXII) was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar or a common year starting on Tuesday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar. ... Musical theater (or theatre) is a form of theater combining music, songs, dance, and spoken dialogue. ... Lyman Frank Baum (May 15, 1856 – May 6, 1919) was an American author, and the creator with illustrator W. W. Denslow of one of the most popular books ever written in American childrens literature, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. ... Cover of Macleod of Dare & Sunrise by William Black, from a John B. Alden 1883 publication in New York William Black (November 13, 1841 – 1898) was a novelist born in Glasgow, Scotland. ... Arran can refer to: arran is the term for a boy with a fat body, a small dick, and a craving to have sexual intercourse with parrots. ... The placename Aran may refer to: The Aran Islands or the largest island in that group Aran, a historical region that is a part of modern Republic of Azerbaijan (Caucasia) The Isle of Arran in Scotland. ...



The play heavily alters Black's original to fit with the conventions of popular melodrama. The novel's sympathetic older male takes a Gregory Maguire-like turn that exists only in the mind of the novel's Frank Lavender. While Baum does not omit all of Lavender's unsympathetic qualities from Hugh, it is still quite obvious who we are to read as the hero, something Black leaves more to the reader to decide. Gregory Maguire received his Ph. ...


The play opened on Baum's 26th birthday, May 15, 1882, and headlined Agnes Hallock as Shiela O'Mara (Black's Sheila Mackenzie--note spelling difference), the daughter of the King of Arran, Con. O'Mara (John F. Ryan). She sang the songs "The Legend of Castle Arran" and "Ship Ahoy!", the latter being lost. Oona Kearney, the female character lead and equivalent of Black's Mairi, was played by Genevieve Rogers. Her songs included "Oona's Gift: A Tuft of the Old Irish Bog" and "A Pair o' Blue Eyes". Baum's aunt, Katharine Gray, whom briefly employed Baum as an acting teacher, played Harriet Holcomb (Black's Caroline Lavender), and played a smaller role created by Baum, The Prophetess, under the name "Kate Roberts". Her maid, Gray (Black's Mrs. Paterson) was played by Cordie Aiken. John L. Morgan played Captain John Ingram, a moustache-twirling villain inspired by Black's Edward Ingram, who wants Shiela for himself. Edward Ingram merely offers her frienship that arouses Lavender's ire, partly because he's known Lavender long enough to understand how he can hurt people. Not remarked on much at the time were John H. Nicholson as Phadrig o' the Pipes, a very large but non-singing supporting role, based on Black's John the Piper. He is friend to all the good guys and helps them out of jams, despite being a wiry old man. Mike J. Gallagher played the juvenile lead, Denny, performing "A Rollicking Irish Boy". His character has no real equivalent in the novel, but has elements of Johnny Eyre and the much older character Duncan Macdonald. Mrs. Cecelia Lorraine comes over wholesale from the novel, but is only talked about, never shown. Rounding out the original cast were C.F. Edwards as the Boatswain of the Malabar and C.H. Dennison as Fetchu A, a valet not mentioned in the script. The other songs were "When O'Mara Is King Once Again", performed by Con. O'Mara, and "Sailing" performed by a chorus of sailors. Although the songs often interrupted the flow of the melodrama, they all grow out of the story and develop its characters, making it a primitive example of organic musical. "Oona's Gift" does the most to advance the story, and is indeed inspired by a scene in Black's novel.

The play was very successful, especially with Irish audiences, in spite of its stereotyping, as it was much more sympathetic and, despite all its corny melodrama, did not reduce them to caricatures. The play, however, was panned in Richmond, Indiana, where it ultimately closed. Richmond, Indiana is a city in eastern Indiana, which borders Ohio. ...


Genevieve Roberts was the musical director. Baum fulfilled the functions of the director, a job that had not really taken an official hold at the time. Frank E. Aiken was the stage manager. The play was managed by John W. Baum and E.B. Brown.

Performance history:

Despite the fact that Baum himself performed in a revivial, and its burst of popularity that caused Baum to expect a long acting career that never materialized, the play was never published, nor was its full score. The surviving scripts may or may not reflect how it was actually played. When one of Baum's theatres in Richburg, New York, was destroyed in a fire, costumes, props, and scripts, including such lost plays as The Mackrummins and a successfully staged straight drama ironically titled Matches, which played in the theatre the night of the fire, were destroyed, perhaps in unique copy.


  • The Maid of Arran page on the Lyman Frank Baum Works Archive
  • "A Rollicking Irish Boy" on Hungry Tiger Press



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