London Stage in the Nineteenth Century

1 customer review


This book fills a large gap: no other book conveys the essence of the age with such authenticity and wit. It is a unique record decade by decade, year by year, of all the major new plays, revivals, performances and productions.


London Stage in the Nineteenth Century is a fascinating record of great actors, famous performances, major premieres, and spectacular productions. The book features legendary actors in their most famous roles, including Sarah Siddons, John Philip Kemble, Edmund Kean, ‘Joey’ Grimaldi, William Charles Macready, Ira Aldridge, Edwin Booth, Ellen Terry, Henry Irving, Dan Leno, Eleonora Duse and Sarah Bernhardt.

The book contains over 220 contemporary illustrations of actors, productions, theatre buildings and playbills. All of these help to capture an era in which the public wanted the histrionic and the sensational; erupting volcanoes, burning buildings, historical tableaux, and even a presentation of Henley Regatta, complete with real boats and 200 tons of water.

There was a wide variety of entertainment on offer. There were melodramas, comedies, farces, pantomimes and extravaganzas by J. R. Planché, burlettas, operas, ballets, musicals and music halls. There were regular adaptations of novels, most notably those by Sir Walter Scott and Charles Dickens, and numerous adaptations and plagiarisms from the French dramatists. Plays based on recent murders and plays dealing with topical social issues. There were also patriotic pageants, aquatic dramas, equestrian dramas, canine dramas, and even elephant dramas.

This is a book that theatre lovers everywhere will enjoy: flicking through the lavishly illustrated pages will reveal many great personalities, performances and productions, but also witty commentaries, acerbic reviews and astonishing facts about all aspects of the London stage.

  • Author: Robert Tanitch
  • Binding: hardback
  • ISBN: 978-1-85936-208-2
  • Pages: 360
  • Illustrations: over 220

1 review for London Stage in the Nineteenth Century

  1. Simon Callow, The Guardian

    riotously enjoyable … There have been many … accounts of the period … but none quite so vivid or as evocative as this irresistible compendium of the foibles and passing glories of the stage.

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