Theater

Nicholas Daly, “Anthony Hope’s The Prisoner of Zenda (April, 1894) and the Rise of Ruritanian Fiction”

Nicholas Daly, “Anthony Hope’s The Prisoner of Zenda (April, 1894) and the Rise of Ruritanian Fiction”

Anthony Hope’s bestseller of 1894, The Prisoner of Zenda, inspired a subgenre of adventure romances set in imaginary, semi-feudal European countries, of which Ruritania is the original. English and later American protagonists stumble into plot-driven narratives that usually feature some combination of schemes against the throne, doubles or mistaken identities, swordplay, and love at first sight. Since the 1890s, Ruritanian backdrops have been reworked for a variety of purposes, from Balkan spy novels, to interwar operetta, to Cold War satires, in such fictional territories as Ixania, Krasnia, and Grand Fenwick.