Diverse Performances: Masculinities and the Victorian Stage

Edited by
Ross Burgess

With a Foreword by Jeremy Kingston

The rich tapestry of life in and around London theatres in the Victorian age. Oscar Wilde and his first-night supporters with their green carnations, soon to be dispersed when disaster struck; ‘Fanny and Stella’ parading in full drag, and their triumph in court; Sir Henry Irving and his close male friendships. Plus the many ways that the theatre impacted the lives of men, as actors, musicians, dramatists, and men behind the scenes and in the audience. 

Diverse Performances is a comprehensive survey of the role of men in the  Victorian theatre, with insights into the behaviour of ‘swells’ in the audience, the unhealthy conditions backstage, the techniques of lighting as gas jets were replaced by limelight and then by electricity, the struggle of playwrights to earn a decent living, the portrayal of soldiers sailors, and working men in popular melodrama, and the struggle for actors to be considered ‘respectable’.

David Haldane Lawrence was working on this book, an expansion of his PhD thesis, up to his untimely death in 2009. Ross Burgess has thoroughly revised it, combining what appeared to be the best sections of David’s various drafts, and prepared it for publication by Paradise Press.

More about Diverse Performances


Physical copy

Post to:
Book Specification: 
384 pages
October, 2014

David Haldane Lawrence (1940–2009) was born in New Zealand but lived in London most of his life and worked for the British Library for many years. He became known as an expert on theatre history, and studied English Literature at Birkbeck, taking first class honours, followed by an MA and a PhD. His published papers and articles cover subjects such as chorus boys,  the ‘fallen man’ in melodrama, and Charles Dickens and the world of opera, but Diverse Performances was his major life’s work.

Ross Burgess has recently taken up creative writing after years of editing and technical writing. He's a retired IT consultant with degrees from Oxford and the Open University. A life-long supporter of gay campaigning groups, he’s commissioning editor for Amiable Warriors (Peter Scott-Presland’s monumental history of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality; Volume One published by Paradise Press in 2015) and is a principal editor at the UK LGBT Archive – www.lgbtarchive.uk. He edited Diverse Performances after the author's death, and two of his short stories are included in A Boxful of Ideas, for which he did the typography and page design.