Chartist drama

Edited by Gregory Vargo

Chartist drama


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Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-4206-1
  • Pages: 264
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: May 2020
  • BIC Category: Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: plays & playwrights, Literature & literary studies / Plays, playscripts, Theatre Studies, Literature, Plays, playscripts, PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / Playwriting, LITERARY CRITICISM / Drama, DRAMA / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: c 1800 to c 1900


The first collection of its kind, Chartist Drama makes available four plays written or performed by members of the Chartist movement of the 1840s. Emerging from the lively counter-culture of this protest campaign for democratic rights, these plays challenged cultural as well as political hierarchies by adapting such recognisable genres as melodrama, history plays, and tragedy for performance in radically new settings. They include poet-activist John Watkins's John Frost, which dramatises the gripping events of the Newport rising, in which twenty-two Chartists lost their lives in what was probably a misfired attempt to spark a nationwide rebellion. Gregory Vargo's introduction and notes elucidate the previously unexplored world of Chartist dramatic culture, a context that promises to reshape what we know about early Victorian popular politics and theatre.


Introduction: 'Chartism from Shakespeare' and Shakespeare from Chartism
1 Wat Tyler (1794/1817) - Robert Southey
2 John Frost (1841) - John Watkins
3 The Trial of Robert Emmet (1841?)
4 St. John's Eve (1848) - Ernest Jones

Appendix 1: Chartist dramatic performances
Appendix 2: Newport sonnets
Appendix 3: Passages omitted in Cleave's trial version as they appear in Cleave's source, The Life, Trial and Conversations of Robert Emmet, Esq., Leader of the Irish Insurrection of 1803: Also, the celebrated speech made by him on that occasion (Manchester: John Doherty, 1836).
Appendix 4: Advertising placard for a performance of The Trial of Robert Emmett


Gregory Vargo is Associate Professor of English at New York University

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