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Title: Manufacturing Childhood: The Contribution of Child Labour to the Success of the British Theatrical Industry 1875-1903
Author: Colclough, Dyan
ISNI:       0000 0001 3559 998X
Awarding Body: The Manchester Metropolitan University
Current Institution: Manchester Metropolitan University
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis evaluates the contribution of theatrical child labour to the success of commercially provided, performance-based leisure, 1875-1903. The public childhood of the theatrical child is compared to the aspirational ideals of private childhood that the government and other agencies wanted for Victorian children. Discussion takes place through an assessment of two historiographies; that of commercially provided, performance-based leisure and that around the emergence of . , the late nineteenth-century cult of the child. It is argued that the preoccupation with children was not as child-centred as it appeared to be. The new focus on childhood was equally beneficial to adults. The theatrical industry was strongly placed to trade on societY's obsession with the child in order to secure profits. Theatrical employment offered children an increasingly rare opportunity to contribute to the household economy arid to elevate their own and their families' social status but this was offset by the demanding nature ofthe~e work. The tension between this and contemporary concerns for child welfare underpinned action on behalf of stage children from two very different directions. This was countered by theatrical employers who adopted strategies to protect and retain one ofthe industry's most valuable assets. This translated into a collective network of support for the continued employment of theatrical children. The thesis establishes that adult demands on theatrical children, prevented the latter from experiencing the idealised childhood Victorian society aspired to. Children made a significant contribution to the success of the theatrical industry and in return, the industry compromised the private life ofthe theatrical child and exploited its labour.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available