Based on new research, and informed by recent developments in literary and historical studies, The Theatres of War reveals the importance of the theatre in the shaping of response to the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars (1793-1815). Gillian Russell explores the roles of the military and navy as both actors and audiences, and shows their performances to be crucial to their self-perception as actors fighting on behalf of an often distant domestic
audience.The Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars of 1793-1815 had profound consequences for British society, politics, and culture. In this, the first in-depth study of the cultural dimension of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, Gillian Russell examines an important dimension of the experience
of these wars - theatricality. Through this study, the theatre emerges as a place where battles were celebrated in the form of spectacular reenactments, and where the tensions of mobilization on an hitherto unprecedented scale were played out in the form of riots and disturbances. Members of the military and the navy were actively engaged in such shows, taking to the stage as actors in the theatres of Britain, in ships off Portsmouth, and in the garrisons and battlefields of continental
Europe and the empire.A lively and original book, The Theatres of War is major contribution to the cultural history of late Georgian Britain.
`Thoroughly researched ... Gillian Russell has unearthed many valuable nuggets.'
Times Literary Supplement
`Russell takes her reader on an illuminating and stimulating journey through military camps and on board warships where plays were performed by soldiers and sailors; through theaters proper where victories were celebrated...Russell has some stimulating things to say and the material she has gleaned about the theater during the wars is vivid and evocative'
`the actual phrase 'theatre of war' has now become so much of a cliché that it takes a literary historian of Russell's skill and penetration to show us how its roots in this period describe an important psychological truth ... As the extensive footnotes acknowledge, Russell draws on a wide variety of sources for her theatre history. That the reader begins to see how thoroughly intertwined the languages of theatre and war have become since Napoleonic
times is not least of the strengths of this fascinating, readable, and thought-provoking book.'
Stephen Prickett, University of Glasgow, BARS Bulletin & Review, Issue No. 10, May 1996
`informative, scholarly, and readable book ... There are nine well-chosen illustrations, all closely related to the text.'
David W. Lindsay, University of Wales, Bangor, Review of English Studies, Vol. 48, No. 191, Aug '97
`The Theatres of War is an admirable attempt to reclaim for the 'new' cultural history both military history and a now obscure literature ... Russell's book does not perhaps engage fully with the intricacies of the ideological conflict abroad in Britain during the French Revolution, but the breadth of material she has unearthed, from the short-lived 'African Theatre' of the Cape Colony to the 'Aquatic Theatre' of Sadler's Wells, from the private theatricals
of the elite to the spouting-clubs of the Plymouth docks, and the poise with which she manages it all, is ample compensation.'
M.O. Grenby, University of Edinburgh, The Historical Association 1997