The Theatric Tourist
The Theatric Tourist of 1805 is the only account of British
theatre written by a man who was both an actor and a
manager as well as author and artist. James Winston travelled throughout Britain recording details and making sketches of nearly 300 theatres. These were published in 1804 ? 5 as a deluxe edition with 24 hand-coloured plates and 72 pages of text. The original number of copies printed is unknown but very few survive ? most appear to have been broken for the plates. It has never been reprinted.
His individual style recounting the buildings, players and atmosphere of the time is a unique record of Georgian playhouses, from Plymouth: ?The house is a nightly scene of riot and debauchery?; to Brighton: ?The manager is perpetually bringing out women of loose character? to Exeter: ?The company, generally speaking, is respectable, but Devonshire has never been famous for producing theatrical geniuses?. The 24 illustrations present the playhouses of England of the late Georgian period, some of which are still recognisable, but many of which have long since vanished.
This superb facsimile is co-published with the Society for Theatre Research, and is an invaluable piece of social history for anyone interested in the performing arts in Britain in the early 19th century.
Iain Mackintosh has curated a number of theatre history exhibitions and is the author of Actor, Audience and Architecture (Routledge, 1993).