1st Edition

British Nautical Melodramas, 1820–1850

    1224 Pages
    by Routledge

    During the 1820s and 30s nautical melodramas "reigned supreme" on London stages, entertaining the mariners and maritime workers who comprised a large part of the audience for small theatres. These plays mixed sentimental moments and comic interludes of domestic melodrama with patriotic images that communicated and reinforced imperial themes.

    However, generally the study of British theatre history moves from medieval and renaissance plays directly to the realism and naturalism of late Victorian and modern drama. Readers typically encounter a gap between Restoration and eighteenth-century plays like those of Oliver Goldsmith and Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and late-nineteenth plays by Henrik Ibsen and Oscar Wilde. Nineteenth-century drama, with the possible exception of plays by Byron, Shelley, and Wordsworth, remains all but invisible. Until recently, melodramatic plays written and performed during this "gap" received little scholarly attention, but their value as reflections of Britain’s promulgation of imperial ideology — and its role in constructing and maintaining class, gender, and racial identities — have given discussions of melodrama force and momentum.

    The plays included in these three volumes have never appeared in a critical anthology and most have not been republished since their original nineteenth-century editions. Each play is transcribed from original documents and includes an author biography, a headnote about the play itself, full annotations with brief definitions of unfamiliar vocabulary, and explanatory notes. Comprehensive editorial apparatus details the nineteenth-century imperial, naval, political, and social history relevant to the plays’ nautical themes, as well as discussing nineteenth-century theatre history, melodrama generally, and the nautical melodrama in particular. Contemporary theatre practices — acting, audiences, staging, lighting, special effects — are also examined. An extensive bibliography of primary and secondary texts; a complete index; and contemporary images of the actors, theatres, stage sets, playbills, costumes, and locales have been compiled to aid study further.

    Volume I



    List of Themes

    List of Illustrations

    Editorial Procedure

    General Introduction



    Introduction to Andrew L.V. Campbell

    Campbell. Bound 'Prentice to a Waterman
    Campbell. Britannia, or, the Female Sacrifice


    Introduction to Thomas Dibdin

    Dibdin. The Pirate


    Introduction to Edward Fitzball

    Fitzball. The Floating Beacon
    Fitzball. The Flying Dutchman, or, The Phantom Ship
    Fitzball. Nelson, or, Britannia Rules the Waves
    Fitzball. The Pilot
    Fitzball. Tom Cringle, or, Mat of the Iron Hand


    Volume II

    Introduction to John Thomas Haines

    Haines. Breakers Ahead
    Haines. My Poll and My Partner Joe
    Haines. The Ocean of Life, or Every Inch a Sailor
    Haines. Rattlin the Reefer, or, the Tiger of the Sea
    Haines. The Wizard of the Wave, or, the Ship of the Avenger


    Introduction to Douglas William Jerrold

    Jerrold. Descart, the French Buccaneer
    Jerrold. The Mutiny at the Nore
    Jerrold. Black Eye'd Susan


    Volume III

    Introduction to William Thomas Moncrieff

    Moncrieff. Shipwreck of the Medusa; or, the Fatal Raft


    Introduction to W.H. Oxbury & J. Gann

    Oxbury & Gann. Midshipman Easy

    Introduction to Isaac Pocock

    Pocock. Robinson Crusoe and the Bold Buccaneers

    Introduction to Charles Somerset

    Somerset. The Fall of Algiers, By Sea and Land
    Somerset. The Sea

    Introduction to Edward Stirling

    Stirling. The Cabin Boy

    Introduction to Thomas James Thackeray

    Thackeray. Penmark Abbey

    Introduction to T.E. Wilks

    Wilks. Ben the Boatswain


    Arnold Schmidt is Professor of English at California State University, Stanislaus, USA