1871 – 1949
Who was Peggy Webling?
Peggy Webling was a British playwright, novelist and poet. Her 1927 play version of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is notable for naming the creature "Frankenstein" after its creator, and for being the inspiration of the classic 1931 film directed by James Whale.
Webling wrote her adaptation of Frankenstein at the request of actor-producer Hamilton Deane, who had a recent success in his stage adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Webling's Frankenstein was first produced by Deane in Preston, Lancashire in December 1927. After touring in repertory with Dracula for two years, and some revisions by Webling, it opened in London in February 1930, where it played 72 performances. The Times of London wrote, "Miss Webling, translating into terms of the theatre Mary Shelley's one lasting and original composition, has unquestionably succeeded in bringing the monster to life; but the play in which she exhibits this wild beast is as flimsy as a bird cage."
Nonetheless, in April 1931 Universal Pictures bought the film rights to an unproduced American adaptation of Webling's play by John L. Balderston, giving the playwrights $20,000 plus 1 percent of the gross earnings on all showings of any films based on their dramatic work. Balderston himself had a low regard for Webling's play, calling it "illiterate" and "inconceivably crude".
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