From Napoleon's invasion of Portugal in 1807 to his final defeat at Waterloo, the English theatres played a crucial role in the mediation of the Peninsular campaign. In the first in-depth study of English theatre during the Peninsular War, Susan Valladares contextualizes the theatrical treatment of the war within the larger political and ideological axes of Romantic performance. Exploring the role of spectacle in the mediation of war and the links between theatrical productions and print culture, she argues that the popularity of theatre-going and the improvisation and topicality unique to dramatic performance make the theatre an ideal lens for studying the construction of the Peninsular War in the public domain. Without simplifying the complex issues involved in the study of citizenship, communal identities, and ideological investments, Valladares recovers a wartime theatre that helped celebrate military engagements, reform political sympathies, and register the public’s complex relationship with Britain’s military campaign in the Iberian Peninsula. From its nuanced reading of Richard Brinsley Sheridan's Pizarro (1799), to its accounts of wartime productions of Shakespeare, description of performances at the minor theatres, and detailed case study of dramatic culture in Bristol, Valladares’s book reveals how theatrical entertainments reflected and helped shape public feeling on the Peninsular campaign.
"In this groundbreaking investigation of theatrical engagements with the anti-Napoleonic campaigns in Spain and Portugal, Valladares brings to life a multifaceted panorama in which writing, performance, spectatorship, history and politics converge into a fascinating intersection of forms of visuality and spectacularity. Drawing upon innovative archival research, this study confirms the centrality of theatre and the impact of Iberian cultures in early nineteenth-century Britain. Valladares’s carefully researched and convincingly argued volume is an invaluable contribution to the study of the politics of the early nineteenth-century stage and, more generally, to the fields of Romantic Anglo-Hispanic and Anglo-Portuguese Studies." -- Diego Saglia, University of Parma, Italy
"Susan Valladares’ Staging the Peninsular War: English Theatres 1807-1815 is, by a considerable margin, an original contribution to knowledge. It opens up a new set of previously neglected perspectives on this significant aspect of the Napoleonic war and parades the vigour of theatrical responses to it…The rich body of material identified for the first time by Valladares in Staging the Peninsula War considerably re-balances our picture of theatre in wartime Britain." --David Worrall, Nottingham Trent University/University of Roehampton, The Review of English Studies
"This richly documented and informative study accomplishes precisely what the title promises: a thorough examination of how Napoleon’s invasion of Portugal led to Britain’s military intervention in Spain and Portugal, and how back in Britain the Peninsular War excited a high degree of public interest reflected not only in newspapers and periodicals, but also in the theatres of the metropolis and the provinces." -- Frederick Burwick,University of California, Los Angeles, The BARS Review
"While the span of years that her work covers is intentionally narrow, her spatial coverage is broad, as she examines drama and spectacle not only in London’s patent theatres, but also in the minor theatres and Bristol’s Theatre Royal and Regency Theatre. The result is that she creates an image of British theatre and performance that is truly national, rather than exclusively metropolitan… Valladares creates a rich picture of cultural engagement with the Peninsular War that goes beyond what we think of as traditional ‘drama’. She connects her analysis of major works, like those by Sheridan and Shakespeare, to lecturing, graphic satire, and illegitimate drama." - Jane Wessel, Austin Peay State University, Romantic Textualities: Literature and Print Culture, 1780–1840, 22
"Es grato siempre, pero más aún en los tiempos que corren en la investiga-ción universitaria, siempre sometida a la última moda y a las exigencias angustiosas del escalafón, encontrarse con un trabajo generoso y esforzado como el de Susan Valladares, que reúne una impresionante documentación de primera mano, pro-cesada con solvencia teórica y capacidad interpretativa… Solo cabe terminar llamando la atención de los expertos en las materias españolas tratadas en esta excelente monografía, que tiene tantos reclamos de interés para ellos como para los expertos en el teatro inglés del XIX." - Fernando Durán López, Cuadernos de Ilustración y Romanticismo
"Valladares is at her best in providing detailed analyses of specific productions and their mediation of contemporary events, especially as seen through the lens of newspaper accounts and reviews. (…) the book offers theatre scholars an invaluable archival resource: a resource intensified by three appendices offering separate calendars of playbills for Covent Garden,Drury Lane, and Bristol’s Theatre Royal, all for the period 1807–1815." - Betsy Bolton, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA, USA in European Romantic Review (2017)