When, in 1972, I was appointed to the Drama Department at Manchester University and it was learned by members of that institution's English Department that I had been engaged to teach undergraduates and postgraduates in nineteenth century theatre, members of that department determined on a pre-emptive intimidatory strike. I was invited to the English Department and confronted with the extensive and admittedly impressive schedule of reading for its Victorian Literature course. Listed for the students' reading were numerous novels, poems, essays. At the bottom of the list was this stern admonition: "As for the drama of this period, it is best ignored". Nineteenth century drama, students were being advised, was an area to shun.
Against this would-be embargo, consider our roll-call.
Richard Abel, Charles Affron, Robert C. Allen, Sally Alexander, Richard Altick, Rick Altman, Gillian Anderson, Barry Anthony, William Appleton, Geoffrey Ashton, Nina Auerbach, Marc Baer, Peter Bailey, Michael Baker, Christopher Balme, Martin Banham, Rosemarie Bank, Barbara Barker, Clive Barker, Kathleen Barker, Daniel Barrett, Susan Bassnett, Christopher Baugh, David Beasley, Dave Berry, Ivo Blom, Michael Booth, Cobi Bordewijk, Eileen Bowser, Neil Brand, Jacky Bratton, Anne-Kathrin Braun, Marta Braun, Ben Brewster, Peter Brooks, Richard Brown, Kevin Brownlow, Jane Bryan, Gilli Bush-Bailey, Francesca Byrne . . .
In the thirty years since I met my English Department colleagues, much has happened to our subject. In 1972, we were an embattled and largely ignored few. We could - and occasionally did - fit comfortably around a small table: Hannah Winter, Arthur Saxon, Joe Donohue, Michael Booth, Brooks McNamara, Don Wilmeth, Richard Findlater, Anthony Hippisley-Coxe, and I. At our table's head sat George Rowell, our acknowledged leader, our urbane savant and pathfinder. About George Rowell, more follows below. We were isolated from colleagues working in Music. Film Studies was represented by Nicholas Vardac, Dance by Ann and Ivor Guest.
Charlotte Canning, Philip Carli, Carol Carlisle, Marvin Carlson, Susan Carlson, Alexandra Carton, Denis Castle, Richard Allen Cave, David Cheshire, Ian Christie, Gay Gibson Cima, F. Theodore Cloak, Stephen Cockett, Dale Cockrell, Leonard Conolly, Lorraine Commeret, Barbara Cooper, Jeffrey Cox, Thomas Crochunis, Maura Cronin, Gilbert Cross, Hugh Cunningham, Scott Curtis, Frances Dann, Robertson Davies, Jim Davis, Peter Davis, Tracy Davis, Leslie Midkiff DeBauche, Massimiliano Demata, Andrea Stulman Dennett, Bryony Dixon, Ellen Donkin, Joseph Donohue, Alan Downer, Victoria Duckett. . .
How that has changed, and how much that change needs to be recognised by our readers! The 270-plus names listed in this editorial are some - only some, but not all - of the scholars who have materially changed the nature and reputation and vitality of our subject. Many of these people have contributed impressive and important studies which have illuminated and made essential study of complex theatrical, musical, dance, and cinematic activity and have materially contributed to our current understandings of theatre historiography. In some crucial instances, their work in the 19th Century has had the further effect of forcing a reconsideration and reevaluation of large elements of the Restoration and 18th Century stage previously marginalised or dismissively ignored by earlier generations of theatre historians. I'm proud to call every one of these many scholars "colleague"; I'm delighted that many have become personal friends. Although several decades younger than I, my coeditor Viv Gardner acknowledges this sense of collegiality and friendship.
John Earl, Jill Edmonds, Thomas Elsaesser, Sos Eltis, Victor Emeljanow, Bertrand Evans, Inga-Stina Ewbank, Richard Fawkes, Ann Featherstone, John Fell, Richard Findlater, Judith Fisher, Raymund FitzSimon, Linda Fitzsimmons, Frances Fleetwood, Tony Fletcher, Richard Fotheringham, Richard Foulkes, James Fowler, Beth Friedman-Romell, John Frick, John Fullerton, Viv Gardner, Andre Gaudreault, David Gill, Joe Ging, Victor Glasstone, Christine Gledhill, George Glenn, Vera Gottlieb, Frank Gray, Peter Greenhalgh, Breandan Gregory, Lee Grieveson, David Grimsted, Ann Hutchison Guest, Ivor Guest, Tom Gunning. …