The Winslow Boy

From page to stage: The Winslow Boy

Posted on: September 1st, 2013 by Roundabout


The following timeline illustrates the real events that inspired Terence Rattigan to write The Winslow Boy and its ongoing significance as a play today.

1908-1911 – The Real Winslow Boy

In 1908 13-year-old George Archer-Shee enters the Royal Naval College for young cadet training. One day George is given permission to visit the local post office to purchase a postal order for fifteen shillings and sixpence (approximately $69 dollars today) to buy a model train. Later that day a postal order for five shillings (approximately $22 today) is reported that was stolen from a fellow cadet, and after a routine investigation, The Admiralty expels George from the college on the grounds of theft.

The postal order sent to Cadet Terence Back and allegedly cashed by George Archer-Shee on April 7, 1908. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

George’s family decide that they will not accept the Admiralty’s ruling without a fight and encourage eminent Irish barrister and politician, Edward Carson to take on the case to preserve their reputation. Carlson adopts a legal device called the petition of right in order to bring the matter before London’s High Court, as the Royal Navy is protected from a civil lawsuit. King Edward VII grants Carson’s petition and the family wins the right to come to court. The story is the subject of political debate and features in the newspapers regularly, with public sympathy behind the family. After four days in court the Crown’s case collapses and George Archer-Shee is pronounced innocent.

1944-45 – Writing the Play

Rattigan researches the events surrounding the Archer-Shee case and uses them to form the basis of a new play. He says “I wanted to create, not just to recreate. The plot was borrowed from life, but if the characters too had been borrowed from life then I felt the whole play might easily have been dead.” Rattigan introduces several fictional characters and moves the timing of the case to closer to the outbreak of the First World War.

1946-47 – West End and Broadway Premieres

The Winslow Boy premieres in London’s West End at the Lyric Theatre in 1946 featuring Emlyn Williams, Mona Washbourne, Angela Baddeley, Kathleen Harrison, Frank Cellier, Jack Watling and Clive Morton under the direction of Glen Byam Shaw. It won the Ellen Terry Award for the Best New play.

The play premieres on Broadway at the Empire Theatre in 1947 with Frank Allenby as Sir Robert, Alan Webb as Arthur Winslow, and Valerie White as Catherine Winslow. The play won the New York Outer Critics’ Circle Award in 1948 for Best Foreign Play.

Program, West End production. Source:

Playbill, Broadway production. Source: Playbill Vault















1980-81 – Roundabout’s Revival and National Tour

Roundabout revives The Winslow Boy with a production starring Remak Ramsay, Ralph Clanton, Barbara Colton, David Haller, James Higgins, Elizabeth Owens, Giulia Pagano, Lee Toombs, Michael Tylo, and directed by Douglas Seale at the Lucille Lortel’s Theatre De Lys. The production tours nationally in 1981.

1997-2011 – Other Terence Rattigan Plays at Roundabout

Roundabout stages two other plays by Terence Rattigan, The Deep Blue Sea in the 1997-98 Season and more recently Man and Boy in the 2011-2012 Season starring Frank Langella.

Frank Langella in 'Man & Boy'

2013 – Old Vic Revival

The battle between personal principles, conscience and justice remains highly topical. The recent UK revival opened at The Old Vic in London on 8 March 2013 starring Sia Berkeley, Deborah Findlay, Naomi Frederick, Nick Hendrix, Stephen Joseph, Wendy Nottingham, Charlie Rowe, Peter Sullivan, Richard Teverson, Jay Villiers and Henry Goodman, directed by Lindsay Posner.

Roundabout brings The Winslow Boy back to Broadway from September 20 for the first time in 60 years. For more information and tickets, please visit our website.

Related Categories:
2013-2014 Season, The Winslow Boy

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The Winslow Boy casting news

Posted on: July 31st, 2013 by Todd Haimes


Michael Cumpsty

It is my pleasure to share some casting news regarding The Winslow Boy, directed by Lindsay Posner: Michael Cumpsty (Desmond Curry) and Alessandro Nivola (Sir Robert Morton) will join the previously announced Roger Rees and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in this Terence Rattigan classic. The cast also includes  Zachary Booth, Spencer Davis Milford, Chandler Williams, Meredith Forlenza, Stephen Pilkington, and Henny Russell.

Alessandro Nivola

As always, I am so excited to welcome Zachary, Spencer, and Stephen to the Roundabout family. Zachary, who starred in Me, Myself, and I at Playwrights Horizons, is making his Broadway debut. Spencer, also making his Broadway debut, is a high school senior from St. Louis, Mo., who has toured the country in Billy Elliot. Stephen was recently on Broadway in One Man, Two Guvnors.

I am thrilled to welcome Michael, Alessandro, Chandler, Meredith, and Henny back to Roundabout. Michael was first at Roundabout in 1776, and was most recently seen in Sunday in the Park with George. Alessandro was last at Roundabout in A Month in the Country, but more recently starred in A Lie of the Mind at the New Group. Chandler was in Roundabout’s Crimes of the Heart, and more recently the Old Vic production of Richard III at BAM. Meredith and was in Pal Joey and Henny was in Major Barbara at the American Airlines Theatre.

The creative team includes Peter McKintosh (Sets & Costumes), David Lander (Lights) and Drew Levy (Sound).

Our first show for the 2013-2014 Season, The Winslow Boy  plays at the American Airlines Theatre September 20 through December 1. A range of subscription packages are available. For more information about the production and tickets, visit our website.

Related Categories:
2013-2014 Season, The Winslow Boy



I am thrilled to announce two more productions for our 2013-2014 Season. The first production at the American Airlines Theatre will be a revival of The Winslow Boy by Terence Rattigan, directed by Lindsay Posner and starring Roger Rees and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.  We will also produce the World Premiere of Cutie and Bear, a Roundabout Commission by Bekah Brunstetter that will be directed by Evan Cabnet at the Laura Pels Theatre.

Lindsay is a British director of great esteem, and his production of The Winslow Boy at The Old Vic earlier this year was truly incredible. We’ll be mounting that production with a new cast, led by the great Roger Rees. Roger has been a part of the Roundabout family since 1996, most recently seen in our production of Uncle Vanya (2000), and I’m sure he will be incredible in this play. Mary Elizabeth will be back on Broadway for the first time since her Tony-nominated performance in Man of La Mancha.

Bekah has had much success Off-Broadway with Be a Good Little Widow at Ars Nova and Oohrah! at the Atlantic. We’ve had our eye on Bekah for quite some time, and I’m excited to finally have the opportunity to bring her exceptional play to our stage. And it will be wonderful to welcome back Evan, who directed The Dream of the Burning Boy in the Underground and has been on board with Cutie and Bear since the first developmental reading.

I’m pleased to be adding these exciting productions to the 2013-2014 Season, and look forward to sharing more in the coming weeks. Productions in the 2013-2014 Season are currently only available to subscribers. To learn more about our variety of subscription packages and exclusive benefits please visit our website.

Todd Haimes
Artistic Director

Related Categories:
2013-2014 Season, Cutie and Bear, The Winslow Boy

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