ARTICLE BY MW STONE (1935)
The Collector’s Miscellany
New Series No.10 March 1935
J. K. GREEN (1808?) 1811.
J. K. G REEN is a most important figure in the history of the Juvenile Drama. There is good reason to suppose he was the earliest publisher of all, and may actually have produced some prints about 1808, but I have never heard of anyone who has seen them, and the earliest sheet of Green’s in the British museum Collection is dated 1812.
Green himself claims to have been “The Original Inventor” (of the Juvenile Drama) and this claim is boldly stated on some of his sheets dated 1834, which I have in my collection. Whether this is an actual fact or not will probably never be ascertained, but it is important to note that no other publisher ever made a similar claim, and the honour of having invented “Juvenile Drama” seems to rest between Green and West.
Green published at various addresses in the Walworth Road district of London. Very little is known of his earliest productions, and the sheet referred to above in the British Museum Collection is a copy of one of West’s plates in “The Secret Mine.” After a few years Green suddenly stopped publishing altogether, and nothing is known of him for a period of nearly 20 years, when he made a re-appearance about 1832 and then continued publishing for many years, indeed, I believe Green was longer in the trade than any of his competitors.
He does not appear to have done his business direct, but disposed of his sheets through various other people notably J. Redington, whose name is printed on many of Green’s plates. When Green finally retired from the publishing business, these plates were taken over by J. Redington who continued printing for some years until his son in law Mr. B. Pollock, of Hoxton Street, succeeded to the business which he still carries on at the old address. Long may this delightful old gentleman continue to sell his plays!
With the exception of Mr. Matthews of Acton who has now retired from business, Mr. Pollock is the last of the “Old Brigade.” But to return to Green, most of his plays were of the transpontine variety. He favoured good old “blood and thunder” dramas, originally produced at such theatres as the “Royal Coburg” (the present “Old Vic.”) “The Royal Pavilion” and the “Queens,” “Olympic” and similar homes of the drama which have long vanished, but where for many years the popular dramatic taste was catered for.
Green went in strongly for plays about Highwaymen and Pirates. Included in his list were “Jack Sheppard” (a marvellous production stated to be in 64 sheets) of which I have only about half. He also did “Sixteen String Jack” and “Rookwood” with a Panorama of Turpin’s Ride to York, “Robert Macaire,” “The Red Rover” and “Blackbeard the Pirate.” The “Battle of Alma,” “Waterloo” and “The Flying Dutchman” are also in his list, and of course our old friend “The Miller and His Men.”
I wonder how many versions of the good old “Miller” were done by the various publishers of Juvenile Drama. Nearly all of them put out at least one version, and Skelt did several at various times, but these were taken over from other publishers. The “Miller” was easily the favourite and I have about fifteen different versions in my own collection. It was certainly one of the best plays ever done.
Green’s pantomimes were particularly good and “Harlequin Riddle-me-Ree” was one of the best ever done. His portraits were also very popular and, although in my humble opinion they do not compare with West’s or Hodgson’s, they are still valuable as pictures of famous actors and actresses of the long forgotten past.
I have a large number of Green’s sheets in my collection including many of his plays complete with the original book of words, but I am still many sheets short after years of searching for them.
I recently came across a large parcel of Green’s sheets, but, alas, there were many duplicates and I found to my disappointment I already possessed most of them. And they were going at one penny each!
I have several of Green’s plays complete except for one or two plates, and if any collector of Juvenile Drama should read these lines I hope he will communicate with me through the Editor and we might be able to arrange to exchange duplicates and help each other in various ways. In any case I should be very pleased to hear from any collectors of these fascinating sheets which have given me so much pleasure.
M. W. STONE
Transcript by Justin Gilbert
See his website at "Penny Dreadfuls"