About the author: Dr. Williams is an MA and PhD graduate of Birkbeck College, University of London, and held an Education Fellowship at Keble College, Oxford. He has taught in secondary schools in Slough, Maidstone, and Chesham. His interests in Victorian literature and culture are wide-ranging, but centre on the theatre and on Charles Dickens.
2000 0-7734-7745-4 During the 19th century, the proportion of the population living in cities increased significantly, and the experience of life for those undergoing the urbanising process changed radically. This work examines theatrical responses to this phenomenon, concentrating on plays treating the experience of life in the metropolis as it changed over a 60 year period. There is a particular, though not exclusive, focus on the social class level involved: popular melodrama treats issues very close to the actual experiences of those attending the melodrama houses, many of them in the East End and on the Surrey side of the Thames, away from the fashionable theatres. Cross-references are made to popular fiction and non-fiction where relevant, as well as to major cultural and historical changes. Issues include crime, policing and prisons; changing attitudes toward the underclass; the search for occupation and finding a space to live; relationship between past and present; plight of the migrant; the impact of the railways.