Vera, or the Nihilists is an early play by Oscar Wilde. Written in 1880, some twelve years before his first major theatrical success with Lady Windermere's Fan, it is a tragic melodrama which takes as its heroine a fictionalized version of Vera Zasulich, a Russian revolutionary in the pre-Bolshevik era; a 'Nihilist' as Dostoyevsky and Turgenev would have called her.
In Wilde's play, Zasulich is exhorted by her imprisoned brother to join the Nihilist movement in Moscow. There she rises up the ranks to become one of the movement's top assassins. She falls in love with a fellow revolutioanry, the brilliant Alexis, who in time will reveal a secret identity so unexpected that will test to the last Vera's love and commitment to her ideals.
Vera, or the Nihilists was originally programmed to premiere in Britain, to be produced by actor-manager, Dion Boucicault. Instead, political tensions were such in Britain at the time that Wilde decided to defer production. Instead, it premiered in New York in 1883, moving on to Detroit for a modest run.