What Every Woman Knows
a play by James Barrie, first performed in 1908. The first act occurs in the living-room of a well-to-do Scottish family, the Wylies, and involves the capture of an apparent burglar, John Shand, who has come surreptitiously to read the books he is too poor to afford. The family offers him the money to educate himself, on condition he eventually marries the daughter of the house, Maggie. With her inadequately acknowledged help he becomes a Member of Parliament and rises to prominence as a politician. He then succumbs to the lure of the beautiful but mindless Lady Sybil Tenterden, only to discover that his reputation as a strong and powerful man depends on Maggie. What every woman knows, she explains, is that ‘every man who is high up loves to think he has done it all himself; and the wife smiles, and lets it go at that’. Though he at first says he can never live with her again, it is apparent that a rapprochement has occurred.
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