The article offers a context-bound interpretation of two early dramas written by Stefan Żeromski, i.e. Grzech (‘The Sin’) and Dramatu akt pierwszy (‘A Drama’s First Act’), which remained unpublished and were never staged during his lifetime. The texts were only discovered in 1945 and 1959, respectively. Żeromski had been fascinated with theatre throughout his life, which is evident, for example, in his unfinished essay Pochwała sztuki teatru (‘Apology for the Art of Theatre,’ 1924) or in his answer to the survey prepared by Przegląd Warszawski about the Narodowy Theatre in Warsaw, reopening at the time. His views are reminiscent of ideas propounded by the founder of the national stage, Wojciech Bogusławski, as well as of all the views formulated throughout the 19th century that emphasised the social and patriotic mission of Polish theatre. The artistic imagination of the writer had been shaped by the conventions of the 19th-century theatre, based on stage illusion, the principle of psychological verisimilitude and requirements of natural acting expression. By professing the primacy of declamation and poetic word in theatre, Żeromski sided with literary theories of drama. Grzech and Dramatu akt pierwszy (which remained unfinished) both exhibit the author’s knack for dramaturgy. They both combined novelty as to subject matter and treatment of social problems with some conventions of the 19th-century drama and theatre, driven by dramatic illusion and the action that was shaped in a certain manner so as to generate certain stage effects. The first ever production of Grzech, supplied with a new ending written by Leon Kruczkowski, put on in 1950 is an interesting episode in the history of Polish theatre life in the middle of the 20th century, bearing testimony to its ideological and political limitations.