According to many accounts, Frederick B. Warde performed a play entitled Iskander in 1897-1897 season in many country theatres such Lancaster PA, Chicago, Illinois, Columbus Ohio and so on. The play was adapted for stage, based on Benjamin Disraeli's novelette The Rise of Iskander, by William Dunseath Eaton in 1897. Does anyone know if such a play exists and where to find it?

2 Answers 2


I have not found the play "Iskander" on the Internet Archive, but I did find the memoirs of Frederick B. Warde, Fifty Years of Make-believe, which gives the backstory of the play:

The age of materiality was approaching and however lofty the sentiment or intense the emotion, it must be expressed in terms that could be readily understood or the acting, however perfect, would lose much of its effect.

With these conditions in view, I approached Mr. W. D. Eaton, of Chicago, a dramatic writer and a master of modern English, to write for me or suggest a romantic play that would conform to these conditions.

Romance though dormant is still attractive, but the knight errant and wandering troubadour must have some more definite purpose than moonlight serenades and random chivalry. Mr. Eaton suggested Benjamin D'Israeli's story, "The Rise of Iskander."

I reread it and found it admirably adapted for dramatic purposes. Mr. Eaton completed the adaptation and called it "Iskander." I gave it an elaborate setting and rehearsed it carefully, but a series of unfortunate circumstances delayed its production, which was finally made at Lancaster, Pa., on October 14, 1897.

The part of Iskander, Prince of Epirus, seemed especially suited to me; the supporting cast was excellent and included William Redmond, a fine impressive actor; Charles D. Herman, my leading man for many years; B. W. Wallace, an admirable comedian, and Miss Beatrice Lieb, in the leading parts. But the play was not successful.

Mr. Eaton, a practical student of the drama for many years, had constructed something splendid that appeared to me, to my literary and professional friends and to all of the company, to have every essential for popular interest. Time, money, research and study had been lavishly given to its accurate and effective presentation. A very efficient company had acted their parts with earnestness and ability. The public said it was a very good play—but—, and —but— was the rock on which Iskander was wrecked. It was another instance of the fact that the only sure test of the approval of a play is a public performance.

I am reminded of an incident reported in the experience of the late Mr. A. M. Palmer, when he was the manager of the Union Square Theatre, New York. He had produced a play that was a flat failure. A friend said to him: "I am surprised that a man of your experience, culture and intelligence should have accepted such a play. Even if its reading interested you, surely the rehearsals must have shown you how worthless it was." To which Mr. Palmer replied: "If you can find me a human being who can, by reading a manuscript play, watching or taking part in the rehearsals, tell me positively whether it will be a success or failure, I am willing to guarantee that individual an income of fifty thousand dollars a year as long as I remain in management."

Had I been wise I should have at once withdrawn the play, but I liked the part of Iskander, I believed the piece had possibilities, and I was loath to acknowledge a failure; so we amended, curtailed, reconstructed and patched up the manuscript in the hope of final success; but all to no purpose. After struggling along for nearly three months I was compelled to close the season, which I did in Chicago, and having no material in reserve, disbanded the company. (pp. 259-261)

The story of Iskander, told in 1.5 newspaper columns of prose by playwright W. D. Eaton, can be found on page 15 of the Sunday, July 5, 1896, issue of the Indianapolis Journal.

  • 2
    Well, I have this and other info on Iskander performance in a few theatres as reported by New York Clipper back then 1897-1898
    – Al Daci
    Jan 23, 2021 at 22:00

This is a hard one to track down!

  • The journal article Alan Woods, "Frederick B. Warde: America's Greatest Forgotten Tragedian", Educational Theatre Journal 29(3) (1977), pp. 333-344 mentions Frederick B. Warde appearing in the play Iskander, but doesn't mention who wrote it:

    Significantly, Warde's efforts to add to his repertory were not attempts to broaden his range: he did not act in modern domestic drama at any point in his career after 1881. All the new plays he performed - and most were commissioned either by or for him - were cast in the old romantic style. He performed leading roles in such new plays as Celia Logan's Gaston Cadol, Cadet of France, H. G. Carleton's The Lion's Mouth, Runneymede (William Harrison's version of the Robin Hood story), Iskander (from the Disraeli novel), Espy Williams's The Duke's Jester, Horatius, and Stanislaus Stange's Salambo. Of these, only The Lion's Mouth, a revenge tragedy with a happy ending set in Renaissance Venice, proved popular with audiences and remained in Warde's repertory longer than a single season.

  • The news article Beqir Sina, “Skënderbeu në literaturën anglo-amerikane, në SHBA”, 7 September 2017, written in Albanian, includes information on Iskander and its author:

    Një tjetër dramë e titulluar “Iskander”, përshtatur nga Uilliam Dunseath Eaton më 1896 sipas romanit të Benjamin Disraelit, është vënë në skenë në Lankaster, Pennsylvania, me 1897 nga Frederick B. Warde, një aktor mjaft i famshëm i asaj kohe. Por tekstet e melodramës të Thomas Dibdin-it dhe dramës së Uilliam Eatonit nuk gjenden.

    Another play entitled "Alexander", adapted by William Dunseath Eaton in 1896 based on the novel by Benjamin Disraeli, was staged in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1897 by Frederick B. Warde, a very famous actor of the time. But the texts of Thomas Dibdin's melodrama and William Eaton's drama are not found.

    -- Google Translate from Albanian to English

  • This is confirmed by William Dunseath Eaton's Spirit Life, or Do We Die?, available on the Internet Archive, which lists some of his other works under his name:


    Founder and first Editor of the Chicago Herald. Author of "The True Plans", "The White Crows", "Iskander", "The Parson o' Dunford", "Joshua Whitcomb", "All the Rags", A History of the World War, and other books and plays.

  • No other information appears to be available about Eaton's play Iskander. Neither Google search nor the Internet Archive have any information beyond what's already mentioned above. As the Albanian article says, the text seems to have been lost.

  • The only other possibly relevant thing I was able to track down, thanks to the above-linked Internet Archive search and a result which can also be found on Google Books, is a reference to Marshall Monroe Kirkman's Iskander, published in 1903 and available to read online from the Library of Congress. Perhaps this may have been partly inspired by or based on Eaton's Iskander?

TL;DR: Frederick B. Warde appeared in William Dunseath Eaton's Iskander in 1897, but its text appears to have been lost. The best we have is Marshall Monroe Kirkman's Iskander published a few years later.

  • 1
    Kirkman Iskander is about Alexander of Macedonia. Warde's Iskander is about Scanderbeg of Albania.
    – Al Daci
    Jan 23, 2021 at 17:34

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