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Frederick Lonsdale Biography

(1881–1954), Aren't We All?, amour, The Last of Mrs Cheyney, On Approval

British dramatist, born Lionel Frederick Leonard in Jersey. The son of a seaman, he was himself a page-boy on a transatlantic liner and a sailor before enlisting in the army for five years. He became the leading exponent of drawing-room comedy in the 1920s, known for his urbanity and sophisticated cynicism, his nonchalant dialogue, and his neatly constructed plots. Among his successes were Aren't We All? (1923), in which a young wife waxes indignant about her husband's amour, only to be deflated by the revelation that she has flirted with the same temptation; The Last of Mrs Cheyney (1925), about a jewel thief masquerading as a society lady; the witty picture of trial marriage, On Approval (1927); and Canaries Sometimes Sing (1929), about two ill-suited couples who unsuccessfully swap partners. Before turning to the legitimate theatre, he wrote the librettos for several musical plays, among them The Balkan Princess (1910) and The Maid of the Mountains (1917).

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