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 inThe 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 ofThe 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.
Kegerreis'sThe 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.
- Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons (6 inches)
- Removals: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize mapcases
Gift of Paul Preston Davis, 2011.
Processed and encoded by Sean Lovitt, November 2014.
- Kegerreis, Robert B., 1876-1951
- Poe, Edgar Allan, 1809-1849. Tell-tale heart
- Poe, Edgar Allan, 1809-1849
- 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, https://library.udel.edu/static/purl.php?askspec
Also bears a copyright date of 25 May 1909 in Kegerreis's hand. The draft contains Keggereis's handwritten revisions.
Revised with corrections from previous drafts and contains additional handwritten revisions.
Prefatory speech contextualizing the play and the work of Edgar Allan Poe.
Handwritten lines for the character "Captain."
Handwritten lines for the character "Dog."
Handwritten lines for the character "Irish."
Includes the Keith's Theatre a notice of receipt of 11 photographs from Kegerreis.
Receipt of copyright deposits of the play from the Library of Congress.
Correspondence concerning the music for the play with musical notation.
List of purchases for the play and Kegerreis's notes on the manuscripts.
Collection of programs and playbills that include performances ofThe Tell-Tale Heart, several of which are autographed by the cast.
Seven opened envelopes, including several from the newspaper clippings service and one from Kegerreis's father, Isaac.
One handwritten draft and a typewritten copy of a poem by Kegerreis
Three drafts of Kegerreis's dramatic adaptation of Cornelia Redmond's story "A One Night Stand."
Handwritten draft and typed speech delivered to the Century Theatre Club by Keggereis in his capacity as the Chairman of the Day.