All roads lead to London - and to the West End theatre. This book presents a new history of the beginnings of the modern world of London entertainment. Putting female-centred, gender-challenging managements and styles at the centre, it redraws the map of performance history in the Victorian capital of the world. Bratton argues for the importance in Victorian culture of venues like the little Strand Theatre and the Gallery of Illustration in Regent Street in the experience of mid-century London, and of plays drawn from the work of Charles Dickens as well as burlesques by the early writers of Punch. Discovering a much more dynamic and often woman-led entertainment industry at the heart of the British Empire, this book seeks a new understanding of the work of women including Eliza Vestris, Mary Ann Keeley and Marie Wilton in creating the template for a magical new theatre of music, feeling and spectacle.

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