- Gail Marshall, Adrian Poole
- Institute of English Studies, Palgrave Macmillan
Victorian Shakespeare: Theatre, Drama and Performance ranges across a variety of theatrical spaces in its examination of the significance and influence of Shakespeare on the nineteenth-century stage. It assesses the ways in which the production of Shakespeare fundamentally informs the changing nature and status of the Victorian theatre, as well as the ways in which, through Shakespeare, that theatre became involved in debates over national and sexual identities, Empire, the commercialisation of culture, and issues of political representation in a newly-democratising British culture. This volume also looks at Europe and the United States in assessing Shakespeare's international impact, and the reciprocity between international stages and theatrical cultures in the nineteenth century. Though principally concerned with the performance spaces of the legitimate theatre, the essays in this volume also examine burlesques and parodies, the cultural and political spaces of the 1832 Select Committee on Dramatic Literature, the artistic realm of Shakespeare illustrations and theatre posters, and Shakespeare's presence in nineteenth-century Europe and America. The end-result is a book which radically emphasises the vitality and variety of manifestations of theatrical Victorian Shakespeare.
What did the Victorians think of Shakespeare? The twelve essays gathered here offer some answers through close examination of works by leading nineteenth-century novelists, poets and critics including Scott, Dickens, Collins, Trollope, Eliot, James, Tennyson, Browning, Ruskin, the scholar-critic Mary Cowden Clarke and the actor George Vandenhoff. Shakespeare's characters, stories and words turn out to be integral to such public events as the Great Exhibition of 1851, a fund-raising show at the Royal Albert Hall in 1884, and the death of the Poet Laureate in 1892. The conclusion emerging from this volume is that Shakespeare was indispensable to the Victorians. He provided them with ways of thinking about the authority of the past, about the emergence of a new mass culture, about the relations between artistic and industrial production, about the nature of creativity, about memory and mourning, about racial and sexual difference, and about individual and national identity.