‘Theatrical Celebrity and the Coming of the Picture Postcard, 1890-1914’

Lecture by Prof. Rohan McWilliam

Wednesday 2 Nov 2022, 17:00-19:00

This is the inaugural lecture for the newly established QMUL Centre for the Study of the Nineteenth Century and its Legacies.

Attendance is free and all are welcome. Please sign up via https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/manage/events/440230440097/details

This talk examines the way the coming of the picture postcard in the 1890s changed the nature of theatrical celebrity and the relationship between performer and audience. Postcards are an under-used resource for the cultural historian. They were integral to the creation of the image of the star. What we find is the construction of a visual culture that sustained a fan base and predated the cinema. This paper will look at the images of performers who appeared in straight drama and in musical comedy, contrasting the images of actors and actresses. The talk raises issues about celebrity culture, portraiture, performance and sexuality.

Rohan McWilliam is Professor of Modern British History at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, and a former President of the British Association for Victorian Studies. He is at work on a history of the West End of London, the first volume of which was published in 2020: London’s West End: Creating the Pleasure District, 1800-1914 (OUP). Rohan has published widely on the histories of popular politics and popular culture, including his book The Tichborne Claimant: A Victorian Sensation (2007) and articles on topics ranging from Victorian melodrama to the Labour Party in the 1980s.

Event Details:
The lecture will take place in Graduate Centre on QMUL Mile End Campus, and will be followed by a reception with refreshments in the same building.
Accessibility information: https://www.accessable.co.uk/queen-mary-university-of-london/mile-end/access-guides/graduate-centre
Any questions can be directed to nineteenth-century@qmul.ac.uk