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Hobson's Choice

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: John Hersey Biography to Honest Man's Revenge

a comedy by Harold Brighouse, performed in 1916. The best-known product of the so-called ‘Manchester School’ of realistic drama, this principally involves Henry Horatio Hobson, owner of a Salford shoe shop but a drinker and a drone, dependent on his three daughters for the running of his business. Maggie, the ablest and least sentimental of the three, decides to marry her father's bootmaker, Willie Mossop, and set up in business with him. Through talent and hard work, this enterprise thrives while Hobson's shop declines; and by the end Mossop and Maggie have taken benign control both of Hobson and of his business. Maggie also takes advantage of a drunken mishap involving her father to ensure that he gives her sisters permission to marry, and handsome dowries as well. Thanks mainly to Brighouse's lively characterization of the blustering, self-pitying Hobson, a role that has attracted actors of the calibre of Charles Laughton and Michael Redgrave, the play has been regularly revived throughout the twentieth century.

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