Slade’s Electro-Photo Marvel: Touring film exhibition in late Victorian Britain

Cook, Patricia (2016) Slade’s Electro-Photo Marvel: Touring film exhibition in late Victorian Britain. Doctoral thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

This thesis explores a little known period of early film exhibition in late Victorian Britain. Employing an historiographic approach to material not previously researched, principally the archive of William D. Slade a successful Cheltenham business man, a largely chronological study of Slade‟s activities has been undertaken. Beginning with his presentations of optical lantern exhibitions in the 1880s and 90s in Cheltenham and Worcester, Slade‟s experience as an amateur in magic lantern exhibition is explored as the background to the paradigm shift he made in December 1896. Immediately after purchasing a Demenÿ -Chronophotographe and films from the recently established Gaumont Company in Paris, Slade, accompanied by his daughter Mary, embarked on a new career as Slade‟s Kinematographical and Optical Entertainments and Concerts. During the first six months of 1897, he put on a series of entertainments in the south-west of England and Derbyshire. Investigating what was taking place in Cheltenham in 1897 revealed that the Borough Council commissioned Robert Paul to take film of the official visit of the Prince of Wales to the town in May 1897. The correspondence between Slade and Gaumont et Cie further disclosed that Léon Gaumont, in company with John Le Couteur of the Photographic Association in London, also came to Cheltenham to film this visit. This explained how Slade was able to exhibit film of the Prince of Wales‟ visit as part of the Cheltenham Diamond Jubilee celebrations in June 1897. Slade subsequently made these films a central feature of his nationwide touring entertainments. In August 1897, Slade entered into a contract with a theatrical agent, Edward Baring, which led to 28 weeks of touring as Slade‟s Electro-Photo Marvel six nights a week throughout England and Scotland, ending in March 1898. An in-depth study of the many exhibitions he presented revealed the wide variety of localities he visited, and furnished new understanding of the importance of the Diamond Jubilee films in attracting a diverse audience in many thriving towns of this period. William Slade, previously unknown, emerges as a significant figure in the diffusion of moving pictures beyond the cities and the music hall, into many different localities of provincial Britain and significantly extends the knowledge of exhibition practices in the two years immediately after the first exhibitions in London.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Arts > History of Art & Screen Media
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 17 May 2017 15:56
Last Modified: 17 May 2017 15:56
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/211

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