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Robert B. Kegerreis The Tell-Tale Heart and theatrical collection


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

American performer and playwright Robert B. Kegerreis (1876-1951) was active in the New York theater scene in the early twentieth century. An enthusiast for the American author, poet, and literary critic Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), Kegerreis owned a notable collection of his work, publicly recited his poetry, and adapted the short story "The Tell-Tale Heart" (1843) into a successful short play (1909).

As an actor, Kegerreis established himself on the vaudeville stage, performing in

The Three of Us (1906) and Almost Persuaded (1907). He obtained a lead role as the juror and murderer in the suspenseful play Circumstantial Evidence (1909). The same year, he wrote and starred in his adaptation of "The Tell-Tale Heart," which built on his reputation for lurid performances. Inspired by what he considered a terrible recitation of Poe's "The Raven" (1845) by a professional elocutionist, Kegerreis decided to try his hand at a serious rendition of Poe's work. The Tell-Tale Heart debuted as "curtain-raiser" for the vaudeville comedy Billy (1909). The short opening play met with favorable reviews that remarked on its contrast with the comedic feature and its overall higher quality compared to other short plays performed for vaudeville audiences. Kegerreis's adaptation of the short story was recognized for its ability to speak to current issues and controversies, in particular police interrogation tactics popularly referred to as the "third degree."

After the success of

The Tell-Tale Heart, Kegerreis went on to perform in various plays, including The Ne'er-do-well (1912) and The Great Divide (1917). Kegerreis also continued to write plays, including The Star's Dressing Room (1911).

Biographical information derived from the collection.

This collection comprises material related to the American actor and playwright Robert B. Kegerreis's 1909 dramatic adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Tell-Tale Heart" and his involvement in the New York theater scene of the early twentieth century.


The Tell-Tale Heart opened on Broadway on August 2, 1909, and was performed in various locations along the East Coast and Midwest of the United States. This collection amasses a great number of news clippings with reviews of the play. The collection reflects Kegerreis's involvement in the production and promotion of his work and includes his corrected and revised play scripts, character sides, copy for promotional material, and reviews.

Other works by Kegerreis in the collection include a poem titled "The Dawn of Desire" and his dramatic adaptation of Cornelia Redmond's short story "A One Night Stand."

The collection also includes theater programs and a speech written for the New York Century Theatre Club, for which Kegerreis served as Chairman of the Day.

  1. Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons (6 inches)
  2. Removals: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize mapcases

Gift of Paul Preston Davis, 2011.

Processed and encoded by Sean Lovitt, November 2014.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2014 November 19
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce isrequired from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

The Tell-Tale Heart corrected playscript, 1909 May 18.
Box 1 Folder F1
Scope and Contents

Also bears a copyright date of 25 May 1909 in Kegerreis's hand. The draft contains Keggereis's handwritten revisions.

The Tell-Tale Heart revised playscript, undated.
Box 1 Folder F2
Scope and Contents

Revised with corrections from previous drafts and contains additional handwritten revisions.

Manuscript of Kegerreis's argument, circa 1909.
Box 1 Folder F3
Scope and Contents

Prefatory speech contextualizing the play and the work of Edgar Allan Poe.

Sides for "Captain", undated.
Box 1 Folder F4
Scope and Contents

Handwritten lines for the character "Captain."

Sides for "Dog", undated.
Box 1 Folder F5
Scope and Contents

Handwritten lines for the character "Dog."

Sides for "Irish", undated.
Box 1 Folder F6
Scope and Contents

Handwritten lines for the character "Irish."

"Poe dramatized", undated.
Box 1 Folder F7
About Kegerreis, undated.
Box 1 Folder F8
For press, undated.
Box 1 Folder F9
Quotes, undated.
Box 1 Folder F10
Posters and programs, undated.
Box 1 Folder F11
New York newspapers, 1909-1910.
Box 1 Folder F12
Baltimore newspapers, 1909.
Box 1 Folder F13
Providence, Rhode Island, newspapers, 1909.
Box 1 Folder F14
Pittsburgh newspapers, 1910.
Box 1 Folder F15
Boston newspapers (1 of 2), 1910.
Box 1 Folder F16
Scope and Contents

Includes the Keith's Theatre a notice of receipt of 11 photographs from Kegerreis.

Boston newspapers (2 of 2), 1910.
Box 1 Folder F17
Various cities, 1910-1913.
Box 1 Folder F18
Copyright, 1909.
Box 1 Folder F19
Scope and Contents

Receipt of copyright deposits of the play from the Library of Congress.

Music for performances, 1909.
Box 1 Folder F20
Scope and Contents

Correspondence concerning the music for the play with musical notation.

Production and publication expenses, circa 1909-1910.
Box 1 Folder F21
Scope and Contents

List of purchases for the play and Kegerreis's notes on the manuscripts.

Programs and handbills, 1909-1910, undated.
Box 1 Folder F22
Scope and Contents

Collection of programs and playbills that include performances of

The Tell-Tale Heart, several of which are autographed by the cast.
Envelopes addressed to Kegerreis, 1909-1910, undated.
Box 1 Folder F23
Scope and Contents

Seven opened envelopes, including several from the newspaper clippings service and one from Kegerreis's father, Isaac.

"The Dawn of Desire" [poem], 1909.
Box 1 Folder F24
Scope and Contents

One handwritten draft and a typewritten copy of a poem by Kegerreis

"The Star's Dressing Room", 1911.
Box 1 Folder F25
Scope and Contents

Three drafts of Kegerreis's dramatic adaptation of Cornelia Redmond's story "A One Night Stand."

Century Theatre Club: summary of the year, 1909.
Box 1 Folder F26
Scope and Contents

Handwritten draft and typed speech delivered to the Century Theatre Club by Keggereis in his capacity as the Chairman of the Day.

New York, Century Theatre Club, 1908-1912, undated.
Box 1 Folder F27
New York, 1910-1911.
Box 1 Folder F28
London, 1925 and undated.
Box 1 Folder F29
Baltimore, 1918.
Box 1 Folder F30

Print, Suggest