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by Tom Taylor
About the Play
The Ticket-of-Leave Man is an 1863 stage melodrama in four acts by the British writer Tom Taylor, based on a French drama, Le Retour de Melun. It takes its name from the Ticket of Leave issued to convicts when they were released from jail on parole. A recently returned convict is blackmailed by another man into committing a robbery, but is rescued thanks to the intervention of a detective. It has been described as probably being the first play about a detective.
The play introduced the character of Hawkshaw the Detective, with “Hawkshaw” becoming a synonym for a detective. It was not well received by critics, but proved very popular with audiences and was constantly revived, becoming one of the standard works of Victorian melodrama.