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Title: Johnston Forbes-Robertson and the functions of theatrical celebrity,1880-1920
Authors: Unwin, Hannah
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis contributes to the discussion about the nature of theatrical celebrity and expands on the existing scholarship by exploring in detail the various functions of this particular form of celebrity in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. It achieves this through an extended case study of the actor-manager Johnston Forbes-Robertson. Bridging the Victorian era and the Modern era, he was hailed the last of the actor-managers and occupied a unique place in theatre history between the commercial and new drama. With an emphasis on his most celebrated roles – Hamlet and the Stranger in Jerome K. Jerome’s The Passing of the Third Floor Back – the thesis illustrates the fluidity of selfhood across fictive roles and real life, or the perceived real life that is a public persona. It analyses the institutions that created this celebrity and the archival evidence available to illustrate how he established a celebrity status and an identifiable brand. It explores how his relationships with other celebrities became valuable to his own brand and also emphasises the external influences on his celebrity exerted by his public and the press. This thesis investigates how his celebrity identity, with the specific trappings of theatrical culture, functioned in society beyond the jurisdiction of the theatre. It traces how specific facets of his celebrity were manipulated and showcased to endorse and promote consumer products, to champion political and social causes, and to campaign for the improvement of his industry
Description: Ph. D. Thesis.
Appears in Collections:School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

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