Simple Susan - Edward Gordon Craig


2 pages


Simple Susan

Edward Gordon Craig | 1916 | Marina di Pisa, Italy
Genre (as defined by the author)
Simple Simon, Simple Susan, Johnny, Charlie, Tommy, Boby, The Girl up the Street
Number of acts

The Drama for Fools is a large-scale dramatic cycle containing multiple interludes, including Simple Susan.This cycle kept Craig exceedingly busy between 1916 and 1918. It was supposed to hold 365 short plays and be performed like a traveling show: each night, from 31 April to 31 March, a new play would be shown in a new location. Craig, who wrote his plays under the pen name Tom Fool, stopped writing before the cycle was finished and gave up on performing the play himself.

Nonetheless, he stored his drafts in three cardboard boxes, as a collection of typewritten notebooks containing many illustrations and whose covers display words written in colourful calligraphy. He cared immensely for these notebooks, as he improved, corrected, and supplemented them until the 1950s. This collection is today held at the Institut International de la Marionnette in Charleville-Mézières.

Simple Simon is a traditional English character whose origin dates back to 1685, as he appeared in a ballad named The Misfortunes of Simple Simon and his Wife Margery’s Cruelty. He is mostly known thanks to a nursery rhyme first published in 1764 under the title Simple Simon, in which he is portrayed as a gullible child. “Simple Simon” became an idiom to designate a foolish person.

Although he is famous for his misogynistic and anti-feminist views, Craig here mocks the “Women’s work” column of the Daily Mail during the war. The “doll’s house” he refers to is most probably an allusion to Ibsen’s famous play Et Dukkehjem.

Plot summary

A woman pretends to work like a man

Simple Simon pays a visit to his friend, Simple Susan, whom he thinks is a bit lazy. Simple Susan states that she hates men and that women can do anything better than them. She catcalls four boys, who bark as an answer, and asks them to help her build a house. First, she goes to choose work clothes. Simple Simon calls for her, but she is too busy and refuses his help. When she comes back in work clothes, the four boys bring the house that they have already built - a doll house. She asks them to send a picture of the house to the Daily Mail and to look for a buyer. While she complains about Simple Simon’s selfishness, he reappears, accompanied by a neighbour who thanks him for everything he is willing to do for her: build a carriage, a house, and go for a walk with her. Furious, Simple Susan asks the neighbour what she is going to do to repay Simple Simon. Her answer, “I can look pretty” makes Simple Susan break into pieces.

Related works
Et Dukkehjem
The Drama for Fools, Edward Gordon Craig1914-1918
Composition date

Publications and translations


Edward Gordon Craig, The Drama for Fools / Le Théâtre des fous. Montpellier: L'Entretemps, 2012.

  • Edward Gordon Craig, The Drama for Fools / Le Théâtre des fous. Montpellier: L'Entretemps, 2012.


Conservation place

Institut International de la Marionnette - Charleville-Mézières, France
Literary tones
Comical, Satirical
Animations techniques
String marionette
Not specified
Institut International de la Marionnette & Edward Gordon Craig Estate


Theatrical techniques


Written by

Didier Plassard