Black and White by Wilkie Collins and Charles Fechter.

Title-page of the 1869 printed version of Black and White


Black and White was written by Collins from an idea by Charles Fechter who suggested the outline of the first two acts.  With Fechter's agreement, Collins provided the ending, developed the characters and wrote the dialogue.  The story is set in Trinidad in 1830 and treats the theme of slavery.  The English villain, Stephen Westcraft, competes with the Count de Layrac for the hand of an heiress, Miss Milburn.  He discovers that the Count is actually of mixed race and legally a slave.  He buys him at auction but by another technicality the Count is freed.  Fechter played the part of Maurice de Layrac.  His leading lady, Carlotta Leclerq, took the part of Miss Milburn.  [ Cast list ]

Black and White by Wilkie Collins and Charles Fechter.

Theatre programme for April 1869 at the Theatre Royal Adelphi.

The play opened at the Adelphi on 29 March 1869 and ran for about sixty nights followed by an unsuccessful provincial tour.  Collins considered it a better play than No Thoroughfare but felt it achieved only limited success because English audiences had been saturated with adaptations of Uncle Tom's Cabin.  Black and White was also staged at the Globe Theatre, Boston, from 26 December 1870.  In England, the play was printed for acting purposes by C. Whiting but never published (56 pp, white paper wrappers).  It also appeared in de Witt's Acting Plays (no 296), New York [nd].

Actress Lennox Grey.

Lennox Grey who played Mrs Penfold


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