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Histories of Three-Fingered Jack: A Bibliography
Obi, or Three-Fingered Jack, the Pantomime: Librettos, Scores, Sheet Music and Descriptions


This page lists publications relating to the pantomime version of Obi, which opened at the Haymarket Theatre, London (also known as the Theatre Royal Haymarket) in 1800 with story by John Fawcett and music by Samuel Arnold. The texts below include songs from the pantomime published separately as sheet music or in collection of songs, as well as descriptions of the action.

Pantomime was a very popular theatrical form involving no spoken dialogue. It developed as a response to state regulation of theatre: only a very small number of theatres were permitted to stage tragedy and comedy in this period. Instead, in pantomime the story is told through mime, song, and written signs. The Haymarket Theatre had been licensed to stage tragedy and comedy since 1766; the fact that Fawcett and Arnold chose to use pantomime to stage Obi demonstrates the popularity and success of the form.

Fawcett and Arnold’s pantomime drew on Benjamin Moseley’s published account of Three-Fingered Jack, but added a love story between two white characters, Rosa, a planter’s daughter, and Captain Orford. Their relationship becomes central to the plot. The hit song from the pantomime, ‘A Lady of Fair Seville City’ was sung by Rosa.

1. Descriptions of the Action, Some of Which Also Include Songs and Lyrics:

Fawcett, John. 1800. ‘Obi; or Three Finger’d Jack. A story told by action interspersed with songs, recitative, etc.’
Manuscript held at the Huntington Library, California. Also included in the ‘Larpent Collection’, a microcard collection of plays available at the Shakespeare Institute Library, Stratford (University of Birmingham).
This manuscript was produced for submission to the dramatic censor. It includes song lyrics and descriptions of action. Some of the scenes described here do not appear in other descriptions.

Fawcett, John. 1800. Songs, Duets, & Choruses, in the pantomimical drama of Obi, or Three-Finger'd Jack: (perform'd at the Theatre Royal, Hay Market) To which are prefix'd Illlustrative Extracts, and a Prospectus of the Action. London: T. Woodfall.
23 pages.
The printed wordbook from the Arnold/Fawcett pantomime. Includes extracts from Benjamin Moseley’s account of Jack, a scene-by-scene prospectus of the action, and songs. Shorter than the manuscript version above. This edition is reprinted in the 1996 edition of the score (below) and in Aravamudan’s Broadview Press edition of Earle’s novel.
Available at: British Library

Fawcett, John. 1800. Songs, Duets, & Choruses, in the pantomimical drama of Obi, or Three-Finger'd Jack: invented by Mr. Fawcett and perform'd at the Theatre Royal, Crow-Stree. To which are prefixed illustrative extracts, and a prospectus of the action. Dublin: N. Kelly.
24 pages
Very similar to the London 1800 edition, above.
Available at: Bodleian Library, Oxford University

Fawcett, John. 1809. Songs, Duets and Choruses in the Pantomimical Drama of Obi; or Three-Fingere'd Jack. (Performed at the Theatre-Royal, Hay-Market) to which are prefix'd illustrative extracts, and a prospectus of the action. Invented by Mr Fawcett, and got up under the direction of Mr Farley. Eleventh edition, with additions and alterations. London: T. Woodfall.
20 pages. Price: ten-pence.
Pages 3-6 reprint an extract from Benjamin Moseley’s A Treatise on Sugar. A ‘Prospectus’ of the action follows (7-10), followed by a list of characters and the actors that play them (11), and then the lyrics of the songs (12-20). Very similar to the 1800 Woodfall version.
Available at: National Library of Jamaica

Fawcett, John. 1810. Songs, Duets and Chorusses in the Pantomimical Drama of Obi, or, Three-finger'd Jack.
14 pages
Includes the notes ot the title page 'As performed at the New Theatre, Philadelphia.'. 'To which are prefixed illustrative extracts.'. Without the music.
Available at: Cambridge University Library (microfiche—part of the Early American Imprints series)

Fawcett, John. 1825. Obi, or Three-Finger'd Jack: A Serio-Pantomime, in Two Acts, Volume 59 of Duncombe's British Theatre.
Includes Dramatis Personae list and costume list, followed by scene-by-scene description of the action, with the song lyrics incorporated as they appear in the action. Includes fuller stage directions than the Larpent manuscript or the Woodfall editions.
Available at: British Library

Fawcett, John. 1999. 'Obi; or, Three-Finger'd Jack'. In Peter J. Kitson and Debbie Lee, ed., Slavery, Abolition and Emancipation: Writings in the British Romantic Period. Vol 5: Drama, ed. Jeffrey N. Cox. London: Pickering and Chatto. Pages 203-219, with introductory note pages 201-202.
Facsimile of the 1825 Duncombe’s British Theatre edition.

Fawcett, John. 2002. 'Obi, or, Three-Finger'd Jack! a serio-pantomime, in two acts'.
Available at: http://www.rc.umd.edu/praxis/obi/. Accessed 9 May 2007. Electronic edition edited by Charles Rzepka as part of a Romantic Circles Praxis Series edition of Obi. Based on the 1825 Duncombe’s British Theatre edition, above.

Fawcett, John. 2005. 'Obi; or, Three-Finger'd Jack: A Serio-Pantomime, in Two Acts'. In Srinivas Aravamudan, ed, Obi; or, the History of Three-Finger'd Jack, by William Earle. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview, 217-27.
Reprints the London 1800 edition.

2. Sheet-Music Versions of the Score

Arnold, Samuel. 1800. The Overture, Songs, Chorusses & Appropriate Music in the Grand Pantomimical Drama call'd Obi; or Three Finger'd Jack. Composed & Adapted to the Action by S. Arnold. with Selections from the most Eminent Masters, arranged for the Voice & Piano Forte. Op. 48. London: J. Longman, Clementi & Co.
The original published score.
Available at: British Library

Arnold, Samuel. 1996. Obi; or Three-Finger'd Jack: originally published by John Longman, Clementi's Company, London, 1800, Music for London entertainment, 1660-1800. Ser.D Pantomime, Ballet & Social Dance; v.4. London: Stainer & Bell.
A facsimile edition of the 1800 Longman edition, along with a facsimile of the 1800 wordbook. It includes a substantial introduction by Robert Hoskins with Eileen Southern, giving a detailed performance history and analysis of the music.
Available at: Birmingham ; Cambridge University Library; Glasgow University Library; Nottingham University Library; Trinity College Dublin; University of London Library (Senate House); British Library

3. Sheet Music for individual songs

Arnold, Samuel. 1800. Mandingo King. Dublin: F. Rhames.
Single page of sheet music.
Available at: British Library.

Arnold, Samuel. 1800. The Spanish Guitar. Dublin: Rhames's.
Single page of sheet music subtitled: “sung by Mrs Creswell with great applause in Obi, or Three Finger'd Jack”
Available at: British Library, Bodleian Library, Oxford University.

Arnold, Samuel. 1800. The Spanish Guitar. A favorite new song as sung in Obi or Three finger'd Jack by Mrs Creswell. Dublin: Hime.
Sheet music for piano; followed by arrangement for guitar or flute.
Available at: British Library

Arnold, Samuel. nd. The Spanish Guitar, sung with the greatest applause by Miss De Camp, in the Grand Pantomimical Drama call'd Obi, at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. London: John Longman, Clementi, & Co.
Available at: Bodleian Library, Oxford University.

Poor Negro Woman. A favorite song as sung in the entertnt. of Three Fingerd Jack by Mrs. Adison. 1800. Dublin: Hime.
Available at: British Library

4. Songs from Obi Included in Collections of Songs

The universal songster: Monstrous droll songs for the year 1801. In which is introduced, The history of Three Finger'd Jack. With a selection of toasts and sentiments. London: Printed by T. Maiden. for Ann Lemoine. and sold by T. Hurst.
48 pages.
Includes songs from ‘Obi’ as well as a description of the action. Only the words are given.
Available at: Bodleian Library, Oxford University

Monstrous Good Songs, and Toasts, 1801 containing selections from the Dramatic Pieces of The Magic Flute, Indiscretions, Three Fingered Jack, Egyptian Festival, The True Friends, Peter Wilkins, Mine, Volcano, Of Age To-morrow, Moses and Mammon, Joanna Montsaucon, Spirit of the Elbe, The Naval Pillar, The Pavillion, Paul and Virginia, to which is added, the Adventures of Three-Fingered Jack. 1801. London: R. Rusted.
Price: six pence.
Among the songs inlcded are the following from Obi: Poor Negro Woman "Sung by Mrs Mountain in Three-Fingered Jack"; The Spanish Guitar “'Sung in Obi; or Three-Fingered Jack'
At the end of the volume are four pages of very small print which quotes from Benjamin Moseley’s account of Jack.
Available at: Bodleian Library, Oxford University

'A scene from Obi, or Three-Fingered Jack'. Image reproduced courtesy of The Trustees of the National Library of Scotland

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