Racism on the Victorian stage

Racism on the Victorian stage


Written by: Rebecca Wood

A new book examining the development of racism in English culture via the depiction of slavery and Black characters in Victorian popular theatre has just been published.

Hazel Waters, an editor of the quarterly journal Race & Class and librarian at the Institute of Race Relations for over thirty-five years, has written a unique historical account of the representation of slavery and the Black Character – from Oroonoko to Uncle Tom – on the English stage.

While there are many studies of nineteenth-century race theories and scientific racism, the attitudes and stereotypes expressed in popular culture have rarely been examined. Theatre, especially in the latter half of the century, was mass entertainment, and provides a rich seam for cultural excavation. Discovering how ‘race’ was viewed and how the stereotype of the Black developed and degraded sheds a fascinating light on the development of racism in English culture. This books helps to explain how a certain flexibility in attitudes towards skin colour, observable at the end of the eighteenth century, changed into the hardened jingoism of the late nineteenth.

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Order Racism on the Victorian stage by Hazel Waters

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The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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