The lives of eminent London actors of the Regency period – Kean, Mrs Siddons, Kemble, Cooke, Macready, Grimaldi et al are more than amply recorded.
This book ploughs a more unusual, rarer, furrow.
It reveals the theatrical lives of a family of provincial players who tramped the highways and byways bringing the latest London hits and classic plays to unsophisticated audiences in tiny country theatres and large manufacturing towns. The author offers not a specialist tome for theatre historians – although they will find previously unknown material and new revelations here – but a beguiling story of a family of three thespian siblings, their spouses and their children.
This is a Regency world far removed from the novels of Jane Austen. There are highs and lows, riches and poverty, twists and turns, and extraordinary events as in the script of any modern television saga. The marked difference being that – for the Jonas and Penley Company of Comedians – this was real life.
"The amount of research is breathtaking. It is an easy, ‘chatty’ read in bite size chapters, far removed from being dry or stuffy, but tells human stories with a touch of humour. It is aimed at the general reader although theatre enthusiasts will learn much from it."
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Hardback 420 pages
UK Price £16.95 USA Price $25.95 Europe Price €23.95
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This picture from the Garrick Club shows Edmund Kean the brightest star of the Regency stage. The man in pink on the left is Sampson Penley Jr of the once well-known Penley family of provincial players.
Two generations of the Penley family were actors or managers or both.
They were typical players of their time but all led very interesting lives with many unique features.
Photograph of painting by kind permission of the Garrick Club