So it says here that Graustark is bordered by Axphain to the north and Dawsbergen on the south.  I see no reason to doubt this.  This does not, however, explain its general proximity to Ruritania, which is somewhere near Bohemia (now the Czech Republic).  The two tiny countries have so much in common that they can’t be all that far from each other.

    Ruritania is the more famous of the two, which is why it and Graustark and a number of similar obscure principalities are referred to as “Ruritanian countries.”  They consist of a court where everyone speaks perfect English, a populace which speaks some other language (Graustarkian in Graustark) and are exceedingly gullible.  The ruling families of these countries, which HAVE to be related, are known for their amazing resemblance to each other, or to any likely looking well-bred foreigner, allowing for vast amounts of mistaken identity, impersonation, or other skullduggery.

    Ruritania became famous first, coming to us in 1894 When Anthony Hope brought us The Prisoner of Zenda.  It was the setting of two more novels of villainy and heroism, and then Hope went on to pursue other interests, leaving the field to George Barr McCutcheon, a Chicago author who began with the novel Graustark in 1902, and followed it up with half a dozen more novels, off and on, for a quarter of a century, with dramatizations on stage, movie versions, and other marketing opportunities.  (A Chicago author, George had a younger brother, John T. McCutcheon, who became an editorial cartoonist and late in life, after winning his Pulitzer, noted with some satisfaction that after years of being introduced as the younger brother of George, the author, whose books were out of fashion, was now being introduced as the older brother of John.)

    Beverly of Graustark was the second of the novels.  The turgid political saga of the royal family continued as the Prince of Ruritania, unable to appear in public due to a hunting accident, is impersonated by his female cousin, who has to wend her way through plots and counterplots while falling in love with her cousin’s bodyguard.  It was adapted for the stage by Robert Baker and, as noted here, toured the United States for four or five seasons, apparently to great success.  (Would THE Arthur G,. Delamater lie to us?)  I haven’t been able to find any cast lists, and A. Delamater is the largest name shown in any advertising, well above George Barr McCutcheon’s, but apparently Edith M. Shayne took the starring role for at least one tour.  Edith made a few movies, so she is a little less obscure than Arthur G. Delamater nowadays.

    The play was filmed twice, though never as a talkie.  It is one of Marion Davies’s hits, as it played to two of her skills: comedy and cross-dressing.  It must have been one of her last starring roles, as talkies came in shortly thereafter and she suffered from a fatal lisp. 

    A peculiar thing about this card is that it seems to be missing a chunk off the bottom, but only at the front.  My guess would be that A. Delamater had a bunch of these printed with blank backs, for hyping later seasons of the play.  And there must have been something below George Barr McCutcheon’s name on the front that needed to be removed: showtimes, perhaps, or the words “Free Pass” beloved of drama critics.  George certainly didn’t ask to have his name removed; he had no objection whatever to collecting royalties.

    I suppose both Ruritania and Graustark are due for a screen revival: the 1926 Marion Davies movie seems to be the last appearance of Graustark in the media, and though there have been numerous adaptations of prisoner of Zenda, the critics seem to agree that the 1037 version was the last good one.  (Please do not write in if your prefer the Peter Sellers version or the Stewart Granger version or the Bollywood  version.  I haven’t gotten around to screening them all yet.)  If you can find a script from A. Delamater’s presentation, I would assume the copyright has expired by now.  Start with a nice, short Tik Tok version and work your way up to producing your own postcards.

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