queens of france

Queens of France has so rich and gay a theme, and is done with such a superbly delicate, light touch as to make it sheer delight to any reader.
— Fanny Butcher, Chicago Daily Tribune, November 13, 1931
The pride that goes before the fall. A play that will have the pattern of ‘Queens of France.’ A ‘victim’ of a practical joke seen-in four successive persons-in four stages of his delusion.
— Thornton Wilder, Journal note on new ideas for plays, May 16, 1960

In New Orleans in 1869, M’su Cahusac, a charlatan of a lawyer, preys on vulnerable women, convincing each one that she is a legitimate descendant of the long-lost Dauphin, who fled Paris for New Orleans at the age of 10 during the French Revolution. Therefore, he tells each victim, she is the rightful Queen of France. Tantalized by visions of wealth, palaces and power, each victim responds in her own fashion to this preposterous revelation, which the lawyer claims is supported by the Historical Society of Paris.

The first licensed production of Queens of France was given March 9, 1932, at the Hill School in Pottsdown, Pennsylvania, and at the Miss Masters’ School (Wilder’s mother’s alma mater), Dobbs Ferry, New York.

It was first published in September 1931 in the Yale Review.

A note on publication:

The Queens of France was first published in September 1931 in the Yale Review and was one of the six one-act plays published in The Long Christmas Dinner and Other Plays in One Act (New York: Coward-McCann, 1931). It was reprinted in The Collected Short Plays of Thornton Wilder, published by TCG, edited by Donald Gallup and Tappan Wilder; and in Collected Plays & Writings on Theater edited by J. D. McClatchy, published by The Library of America in 2007.