The Electric Pleasure District: The West End of London in the Age of Empire, 1880–1914

McWilliam, Rohan (2021) The Electric Pleasure District: The West End of London in the Age of Empire, 1880–1914. London Journal, 46 (3). pp. 229-248. ISSN 1749-6322

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/03058034.2021.1979792

Abstract

This study examines the cultural work of the West End of London in the long Edwardian period (1880–1914). It argues that the pleasure district was changed in a number of ways in which electricity was one thread. The coming of electricity affected the character of the area, not only transforming theatre lighting but also introducing new forms of street advertising, notably on Piccadilly Circus. The West End was physically changed by the construction of Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross, which then became sites of a wave of theatre building (all of which showed off their modernity by adopting electricity). These theatres, especially the Palace Theatre of Varieties, are examined in terms of the entertainments they offered but also the ways in which they produced forms of cultural capital for spectators. Finally, the study considers another electric medium, the cinema. The West End became known for upscale cinemas that emulated the theatres nearby and sought to make film-going attractive to wealthier customers who, a few years earlier, disdained it. By 1914, the West End had, to a large extent, taken on its modern form.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Theatre, Cinema, Music Hall, Consumerism, Electricity, Advertising
Faculty: Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2021 17:27
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2022 15:23
URI: https://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/707167

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