While there are many studies of 19th century race theories and scientific racism, attitudes and stereotypes expressed in popular culture have rarely been examined; and only in the latter half of the century.
Theatre then was mass entertainment. These forgotten plays, hastily written, surviving only as hand-written manuscripts or cheap pamphlets, are a rich seam for the cultural historian. Mining them to discover how ‘race’ was viewed and how the stereotype of the black developed and degraded, sheds a fascinating light on the development of racism in English culture.
In the process, this book helps to explain how a certain flexibility in attitudes towards skin colour, observable at the end of the 18th century, changed into the hardened jingoism of the late 19th century.
Concentrating on the period 1830 to 1860, its detailed excavation of some 70 plays makes it invaluable to the theatre historian and black studies scholar.
Published by the Institute of Race Relations, London; ISBN-13: 9780521862622.