At a time when academics are being urged to set up collaborative research projects, and to use postgraduates to do the donkey work of literature searches, gathering statistics and even proofreading, I am somewhat reluctant to admit that this book is virtually all my own work. But, although I have little direct or practical assistance to acknowledge, I must record a debt to those whose insights have, over the years, informed my thinking about the content of this book. My fascination with the French Revolution dates back to undergraduate days, when the assiduity of Alfred Goodwin and the perspicacity of Brian Manning both inspired me to look behind the excitement of events to the driving forces of ideology and material interest. Similarly, Stephen Joseph, Peter Thomson, Martin Banham, Christopher Baugh and David Mayer, all from very different perspectives, fuelled my interest in the then disregarded genre of melodrama. Other scholars whose written work has subsequently enriched my appreciation of both history and theatre are acknowledged in the text.
However, the most stimulating recent influence on my thinking has been my wife, Anna Seymour. Not that she is a specialist in the history of my period, but our discussions about the different ways in which drama is created and effects both practitioners and audiences have given me many startling insights. Her firm grasp of the basic principles of theatre and of scholarship has also helped me maintain an integrity of analysis when occasionally overwhelmed by a wealth of anecdotes and examples.
Much of my primary work was done at the Henry Huntington Library, San Marino, California, where the delightful surroundings and generous assistance, as well as the richness of their eighteenthcentury holdings, makes research there a particular joy. Nearer to home, the John Rylands Library of Manchester University provided