aa1One of my favorite things to do in London is take in some of the great theater city has to offer. London is well known for its theater, specifically the West End where the big theaters host major productions and is a Mecca for any stage lover like myself. I will be writing about some of the theater I took in on this trip in another post, but for my read this week I present a great primer on the early history of the London theater scene: The Making of the West End Stage by Jacky Bratton.

About The Making of the West End Stage by Jacky Bratton: “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.”

In a city full of history, it is easy to overlook the history of the performing arts. However, in a book like this, you will discover the city’s theatrical history is as colorful and full of interesting characters as any Dickens novel.