Manchester - Shakespeare's Victorian powerhouse


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Nickson, Ian Martin ORCID: (2023). Manchester - Shakespeare's Victorian powerhouse. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis provides an account of Manchester’s engagement with Shakespeare’s works during the Victorian era and informs this account with an examination of the prevailing cultural, social, political and economic trends. It concentrates on the careers of seven people – John Knowles, George Dawson, Charles Calvert, Henry Irving, Alfred Darbyshire, Bishop James Fraser and Rosa Grindon. Most of these personalities left us no diaries or archives of correspondence and searching contemporary press reports to fill this gap has been impossible until the advent of digitised newspaper archives. Consequently, apart from a handful of articles and books describing Calvert’s revivals and the career of Rosa Grindon, Manchester’s impact on Shakespearean theatre has been overlooked. By making use of these archives, I have been able to provide detailed accounts of the careers of the seven personalities who were most influential in making Manchester Shakespeare’s Victorian powerhouse.

Manchester’s engagement with Shakespeare was reciprocal. The leaders of the city were keen to employ the moral and spiritual messages within Shakespeare’s works as a means of guiding the city’s development. I describe the impact achieved by the Birmingham-based George Dawson who was invited by a Mancunian printer, Alexander Ireland, to introduce his Civic Gospel to Manchester. Although Dawson mostly spoke in private spaces, I demonstrate how Shakespeare quickly entered all aspects of the civic consciousness by examining contemporary newspaper reports and advertisements.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: Shakespeare Institute
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature


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