John Needham's Double

John Needham's Double: A Story Founded Upon Fact
Author Joseph Hatton
Language English
Genre Novel
Publisher John & Robert Maxwell (U.K.) / Harper (U.S.)
Publication date
Pages 208 pp

John Needham's Double is an 1885 novel and 1891 play by Joseph Hatton, and 1916 silent film.


The novel is subtitled "A Story Founded on Fact" and is based on the story of Irish financier and politician John Sadleir, who committed suicide.[1]

The Saturday Review negatively reviewed the book, calling it "simply the story of John Sadleir .. with certain highly improbable, not to say impossible, additions and corrections of Mr. Hatton's own. The story itself is neither interesting not instructive, nor yet amusing.... However, Mr. Hatton must not be taken too seriously. Lovers of cheap sensation will not be hypercritical, and will probably find John Needham's Double exciting enough."[1] Punch's review called it a shilling dreadful but was slightly more positive: "there is no room for tall writing, or mere padding, when a real good story has to be told in two hundred small pages of print large enough to defy twilight and railway-carriage lamps."[2]


Actress Marie Burroughs as Kate Norbury in the 1891 stage adaptation of John Needham's Double

Augustus Thomas modified Hatton's play for A.M. Palmer's production in New York starring Edward Smith Willard, which debuted at Palmer's Theatre in February 1891[3][4][5] and played for just over a month.[6]

The cast included Willard playing the dual roles of John Needham and Joseph Norbury, Marie Burroughs as Kate Norbury, Burr McIntosh as Col. Calhoun Booker, and Royce Carleton as Mr. Grant.[7]


Silent film

A silent film version directed by Lois Weber premiered in April 1916, starring Tyrone Power, Agnes Emerson, and Frank Elliott. The screenplay was by Olga Printzlau.[9][10][11]



  1. 1 2 Some stories (review of book), The Saturday Review (October 10, 1885), p. 491
  2. And Is Old Double Dead?, Punch (August 22, 1885), p. 85
  3. Thomas, Augustus. The Print of My Remembrance, The Saturday Evening Post (April 29, 1922), p. 16
  4. Winter, William. Shadows of the Stage, Second Series (1893), pp. 292-98 (section on Willard as John Needham)
  5. (5 February 1891). Mr. Willard, The New York Times
  6. (4 March 1891). [ Theatrical Gossip, 'The New York Times
  7. Dale, Alan. Drama (review of play), p. 23 (February 13, 1891), Vol. IX, No. 210
  8. (14 February 1891)Palmer's John Needham's Double, New York Dramatic Mirror
  9. (25 March 1916). Tyrone Power with Bluebird, The Moving Picture World
  10. (16 April 1916). Written on the Screen, The New York Times
  11. 1 2 Milne, Peter (8 April 1916). John Needham's Double, Motion Picture News
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