John Leech (illus)
The Theatric Tourist; Being a Genuine Collection of Correct Views, with Brief and Authentic Historical Accounts of all the Principal Provincial Theatres in the United Kingdom.
- London: T. Woodfall, 1805.
- Abbey Scenery 29; Lowndes, p.2659; Tooley 512; Bobins 909.
Hand coloured aquatints, uncut, plates all unsigned, but with imprint 'London, Publish'd [date] by T. Woodfall', except no.1, of Tunbridge Wells, April 1804 and no.3, which omits the address but gives the date; contemporary blue boards, re-backed, modern quarter black morocco and marbled paper box, five raised bands in gilt with floral motif, lettered in gilt to the second, fourth and sixth compartments. An excellent copy. This was written to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Georgian Playhouse. Continental counterpart works and actors were one of the themes of the conference. This 1805 Theatric Tourist is doubly rare. Not only have few copies survived, but it is the only account of the British Theatre compiled by a theatre manager as well as author and artist. The work has never been reprinted. The plates of venues on the tour include Tunbridge, Bath Reading, Brighton, Richmond, Portsmouth, Lewes [...] Winchester and Norwich, and are dated 1804-1805. Winston was born James Bown. In 1773 he was orphaned, and inherited a fortune from his grandfather in 1796. Under the name of James Neville he bought the Newbury Theatre in Richmond and married actress Frances Mary Villars. This theatre was not a success and he moved on to Weymouth and Plymouth, becoming joint owner in the latter in 1803. It was at this stage that the Theatric Tourist was published in 1804. only 24 plates in 8 parts appeared; the author had anticipated 300. The literary style is idiosyncratic, researched by Winston and edited by Edward J. Longley. As a description of the Georgian playhouse in its Golden Age, The Theatric Tourist is invaluable and entertaining.
Coloured plates in order:
4. Tunbridge Wells.