Ashley Dukes

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Ashley Dukes
Born29 May 1885
Sandford, Devon, English, United Kingdom
Died4 May 1959 (aged 73)
Occupation(s)Playwright, critic, theatre manager
SpouseDame Marie Rambert
FamilyPaul Dukes, Cuthbert Dukes (brothers)

Ashley Dukes (29 May 1885 – 4 May 1959) was an English playwright/dramatist, critic, theatre manager.


Personal life[edit]

Ashley Dukes was born one of five children in 1885. He was the son of the Congregationalist clergyman, Rev. Edwin Joshua Dukes (1847-1930), of Kingsland, London, and his wife, the former Edith Mary Pope (1863-1898), of Sandford, Devon.

He met Marie Rambert, a ballet dancer, at a dinner party in 1917. In Rambert's autobiography she says "after four days of personal meetings, and seven months of correspondence we were married on 3 March 1918."[1]


He initially taught science at university and became a drama critic in 1909. He wrote for several publications until 1925.[2] Dukes wrote The World to Play With concerning the theatre and the play was published by Oxford University Press in 1928.

In 1933, he founded the Mercury Theatre in London and wrote plays that appeared in the West End of London and on Broadway in New York. The Ashley Dukes Company was an important interwar promoter of serious drama, and a training ground for actors.[3]

Dukes mounted the first theatrical performance of Murder in the Cathedral at the Mercury, driving down to Canterbury with T. S. Eliot to collect scenery and costumes. (He rejected W. B. Yeats' dramatic oeuvre for the same stage much to Yeats' annoyance.) Other plays he wrote included Man with a Load of Mischief.[2]


He was the older brother of MI6 spy Paul Dukes and pathologist Cuthbert Dukes.


  1. ^ Marie Rambert, "Quicksilver: Autobiography" (London: St Martin's Press, 1972), p. 94. ISBN 978-0333347119
  2. ^ a b "Obituaries". Variety. 6 May 1959. p. 63. Retrieved 8 January 2021 – via
  3. ^ " | CBSi".

External links[edit]