Drawing Room Plays

by david on 12 August 2018

Cover of “Drawing Room Plays”

Some works deserve to be forgotten, and Grace Luce Irwin’s Drawing Room Plays (1903) is one of these.

Grace Adelaide Luce (1877-1914) grew up in San Diego, and after two years at Stanford University she moved to San Francisco. There she met and married Wallace Irwin, author of Paul Elder’s perhaps best-selling book, Love Sonnets of a Hoodlum. They soon moved to New York City, where Wallace enjoyed success for some years. Grace also became a writer, mostly for magazines, but she also authored several books.

Why should you forget this book? At the turn of the 20th century it was acceptable in the American media to use overt racism in humor, especially towards the Chinese and Japanese. This is a common theme in Wallace Irwin’s work, and sadly, so it was in Grace Irwin’s writing as well. I will spare you the details.

Title page of “Drawing Room Plays”

Grace Irwin died on Long Island, New York in 1914 at the young age of 37. She is buried in San Diego.

The artwork is by an unidentified artist, initials “A. W.” It does not appear to be Audley B. Wells, whose signatures for other Elder works looks very different. I have been unable to conclusively decipher the curious vignette at the center of the title page, but the circular device may be a combination of the letters D R P G L I (Drawing Room Plays Grace Luce Irwin). I don’t know what the red background squiggle means.

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