The Late Mrs Early is a comedy for four men and four women. Terry Early’s announcement that he and Susan Rickworth intend to marry rouses the fury of the formidable Alice, Terry’s mother, on account of a previous relationship between her and Reuben Rickworth, Susan’s father. Sam Early is caught in the middle of this and his peace of mind, as that of his crony Joe, is shattered. Alice’s sudden demise, following her handling of a faulty electric kettle lent to her by the inquisitive neighbour, Mabel, promises a peaceful solution. But Alice as a vengeful ghost is even more formidable than as a live wife and mother. Much drama ensues in which both families, and Mabel, are involved, before Alice’s ashes can be persuaded to lie quiet in her urn until Sam is ready to join her.
Although the characters and events contained in this play are ficticious, the town of Castleford does exist. It is a small mining district in West Yorkshire, and over twenty years of my life were spent there.
Hightown, Wilkinson’s sweet shop, Catlow Street and the Commercial Hotel (which, incidentally, was hosted by my grandparents) were familiar names of my childhood, but town development has removed most of these links, and replaced them with parkland and factories.
As a small attempt to keep alive happy memories, I have used these names freely, and would like to dedicate this play to the one-time residents of that lost area and in particular to Muriel and Hilda Barnes of Ponteract, who have done more to encourage and sustain the Arts in that district than anyone else I know. My sincere thanks.
However, I have no objection to Directors of this work changing street names and districts to their own areas, if so required, though of course, I would prefer the originals.
PS. We even had a reputed haunted house.
Alice Louise Early