A Banbury born, Chipping Norton author’s latest tome delves into the seedy world of the Victorian stage and the gossip that followed them.
Life on the Victorian Stage is Dr Nell Darby’s third published book and illustrates the dark, seedy and often criminal lives of the theatre actors of the time as reported in the press.
Dr Darby has a PhD in the History of Crime from Northampton University and researched and wrote the book whilst working towards her doctorate.
Dr Darby said: “I was researching my own family history and found that my great great grandfather had three sisters and all three were on stage.
She added: “History lessons used to leave me cold at school. But history doesn’t have to be all about Queens and politicians.”
Victorian newspapers back up this premise and in particular their venomous gossip columns which were, as Dr Darby says, the precursors of today’s Heat Magazine.
Their columnists too were pioneers of sorts, seen as the forerunners of todays paparazzi and the book explores the beginnings of our obsession with celebrity gossip.
The criminality explored in the book is both wide in scope and fascinating in detail with actors of the day both the victim and perpetrators of illegal activity.
The book also looks at the technological advances that enabled the press on this side of the pond to keep tabs on the underhand goings-on of the famous when they ventured west to the USA.
Published by Pen and Sword, the book is available at the Jaffe and Neale bookshop in Chipping Norton and all good retail outlets.