Other Literary Forms
James Robinson Planché’s literary versatility extended well beyond the theater. He was an inveterate traveler, recounting one of his many Continental journeys in his Descent of the Danube from Ratisbon to Vienna (1828). He was also an antiquarian and a historian, and his History of British Costume (1834) and A Cyclopaedia of Costume: Or, Dictionary of Dress (1876-1879) became standard reference works for theatrical costumers. Furthermore, Planché’s two-volume history, The Conqueror and His Companions (1874), was considered “definitive” in his own day. Always adept at languages, Planché also translated, edited, or adapted works by French, Spanish, Italian, and German authors, including, in 1853, a translation of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s Nussknacker und Mausekönig and, in 1855 and 1858, translations of the seventeenth century fairy tales of the Countess d’Aulnoy.
When Planché was asked to write about his extraordinarily long and successful theatrical career, the result was his informative and witty Recollections and Reflections (1872), which offers invaluable insights into nineteenth century theatrical practices. Planché was concerned, however, not only with the theater’s past but also with its future. Shortly before his death, he published a pamphlet, Suggestions for Establishing an English Art Theatre (1879). The proposed theater was to produce plays of merit without regard for commercial considerations. Five volumes of Planché’s extravaganzas were also published in 1879. His songs and poems appeared posthumously in 1881.