A Spectator of Theatre: Uncollected Reviews by RH Hutton


253 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55238-000-9
DDC 792.9'5'094109034




Edited by Robert H. Tener

Ian Burns Maclennan is an assistant professor of theatre arts at
Thorneloe College, Laurentian University.


This collection of essays by the 19th-century English essayist R.H.
Hutton draws on unattributed theatrical reviews and writings published
in The Spectator (mostly in the 1860s and 1879s) during Hutton’s
tenure as a literary editor and co-proprietor. Hutton was well known for
his writings on politics, literature, and religion, but as all articles
in The Spectator were published anonymously, very little has been said
until now about his views on the theatrical performances and personages
of his day.

Tener has worked extensively on Hutton’s writings for several decades
and knows the idiosyncrasies of his subject. His familiarity with
Hutton’s writings has enabled him to establish a set of criteria (such
as sentence structure, vocabulary, subject material, recurrent
quotations, and imagery) for determining the authorship of the
unattributed anonymous articles. In applying these criteria, Tener has
established that a number of the articles on theatrical subjects were
most likely written by Hutton.

As historical documents, the articles discuss the actors (male and
female) of the period and the types of plays being performed in London,
as well as other theatrical issues of the day including other critics,
Shakespearean issues, and performance on the Continent. What they offer
to the theatre historian is another intelligent viewpoint from which to
understand British theatre at the end of the last century. Whether or
not one agrees with Hutton’s perspective, these essays are helpful in
providing yet more primary evidence from the period. A Spectator of
Theatre is a worthwhile addition to the libraries of historians of
19th-century theatre.


“A Spectator of Theatre: Uncollected Reviews by RH Hutton,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/2684.