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British Drama of the Industrial Revolution


  • Date Published: July 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107111653

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About the Authors
  • Between the advent of the French Revolution and the short-lived success of the Chartist Movement, overworked and underpaid labourers struggled to achieve solidarity and collective bargaining. That history has been told in numerous accounts of the age, but never before has it been told in terms of the theatre of the period. To understand the play lists of a theatre, it is crucial to examine the community which that theatre serves. In the labouring-class communities of London and the provinces, the performances were adapted to suit the local audiences, whether weavers, or miners, or field workers. Examining the conditions and characteristics of representative provincial theatres from the 1790s to 1830s, Frederick Burwick argues that the meaning of a play changes with every change in the performance location. As contributing factors in that change, Burwick attends to local political and cultural circumstances as well as to theatrical activities and developments elsewhere.

    • Provides insights into provincial theatres neglected in previous histories of British drama
    • Explains how theatres enabled workers to organize during the period in which assembly was prohibited by the Combination Acts
    • Illuminates the complex economic tensions that engendered support for and opposition to the reform movement
    • Examines the role of mythic heroes of protest such as King Ludd, Captain Swing, and Captain Rock as characters in the drama of reform
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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2015
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107111653
    • length: 322 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.57kg
    • contains: 5 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Playing the provinces
    2. Patronage: merchants, tradesmen
    3. Combination acts and friendly societies
    4. Weavers
    5. Mines and mills
    6. King Ludd, Captain Swing, Captain Rock
    7. Vagrants, beggars
    8. Poachers, smugglers, wreckers, coiners
    9. Explosions, conflagrations, and other happy endings.

  • Author

    Frederick Burwick, University of California, Los Angeles
    Frederick Burwick is a Research Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. The author and editor of thirty-two books and one hundred and fifty articles, he has been named Distinguished Scholar by the British Academy (1992) and by the Keats-Shelley Association (1998). The International Conference on Romanticism presented him a Lifetime Achievement Award (2013). He is editor of The Oxford Handbook of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (2009) and general editor of the three-volume Encyclopedia of Romantic Literature (2012). Recent monographs include Romantic Drama: Acting and Reacting (Cambridge, 2009), Playing to the Crowd: London Popular Theatre, 1780–1830 (2011), and, co-authored with Manushag Powell, British Pirates in Print and Performance (2015).

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