This section covers a wide range of resources for readers to take further their interest in Victorian cinema, or Victorian life as reflected through the projected image. Follow the links on the left-hand menu for individual sections.


Victorian cinema

The Sources section of this site lists the major general works consulted in compiling the Who's Who, while specific references are cited under individual entries. The English-language works cited below (all currently in print) give a good overview of Victorian cinema.

Richard Abel (ed.), Encyclopedia of Early Cinema (Abingdon/New York: Routledge, 2005)

Substantial reference work on early cinema in all its aspects, international in scope, and particularly strong on theoretical issues.

John Barnes, The Beginnings of the Cinema in England, 1894-1901 (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1996-1998)

Five volume series on the Victorian cinema period of British film history, each volume covering a year in production, exhibtion and technology, with a comprehensive filmography for the year. An essential reference for anyone interested in the origins of film in Britain and the personalities involved.

Ian Christie, The Last Machine: Early Cinema and the Birth of the Modern World (London: BBC/BFI, 1995)

Published to accompany the BBC television series The Last Machine this follows the same pattern in offering an imaginative entry into the world of early cinema through such broad themes as Time, The City, and The Body. Places the phenomenon of cinema in the world of Victorian and Edwardian ideas, and serves as a clear and stimulating introduction to the subject.

Colin Harding and Simon Popple, In the Kingdom of Shadows: A Companion to Early Cinema (London/Madison & Teaneck: Cygnus Arts/Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996)

Excellent collection of original texts and illustrations from the early cinema period, divided up thematically into chapters such as 'Cinema and Authority', 'The Biograph in Battle' and 'The Cinema and Royalty'. Each section has a helpful introductory essay, and there are supplementary essays on copyrighted British films, fairgrounds, and cartoons.

Laurent Mannoni, Le grand art de la lumière et de l'ombre, translated as The Great Art of Light and Shadow: Archaeology of the Cinema (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2000)

The most important recent account of pre-cinema and the birth of film production and exhibition (before 1897), particularly in France; clarifying and expanding on earlier accounts, with much new material based on original research, an extensive bibliography and list of patents.

Charles Musser, The Emergence of Cinema: The American Screen to 1907 (Berkeley/Los Angeles: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1990)

This is volume one of the History of the American Cinema, and the standard reference work. A meticulously researched, well illustrated and highly perceptive account of the complex story of America's first films. Covers the economic, social and even psychoanalytical aspects of the subject as well as the technical.

David Robinson, From Peep Show to Palace: The Birth of American Film (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996)

Well-informed and handsomely-illustrated account of the early years of American film, taking the story from magic lantern developments through to American dominance of world film markets by the time of the First World War. Particularly strong on the development of the Edison Kinetoscope, the 'inherited repertoire' of motion picture content, and the business struggles underlying the development of American film.

Deac Rossell, Living Pictures: The Origins of the Movies (New York: State University of New York Press, 1998)

Concise but thorough account of the international development of the first films, with particular attention given to such crucial factors as the origins of celluloid, the background of magic lantern shows, and the socio-cultural influences affecting the motion picture inventors and their technologies.

Victorian life

The following works give a useful picture of late Victorian life, with an emphasis on the impact of new media, new technologies, and popular entertainment:

Daniel J. Boorstin, The Americans: The Democratic Experience (New York: Random House, 1973)

Second of a trilogy of American histories vast in scope but practical in information given on the smallest of details. Covers the social and cultural changes in America from the mid-1800s to the early years of the twentieth century, with much useful information on the impact of new technologies on work, home and entertainment.

Asa Briggs, Victorian Things (London: Batsford, 1988)

The third part of a celebrated trilogy on nineteenth-century Britain, this volume analyses Victorian material culture and its values. Its Victorian panorama embraces photography, the magic lantern and cinematography, as well as a host of other Victorian objects.

J.F.C. Harrison, Late Victorian Britain, 1875-1901 (London: Fontana, 1990)

Helpful historical overview of the late Victorian period in Britain. The emphasis is on the governing socio-economic factors and the class background to British life and politics.

Stephen Kern, The Culture of Time and Space: 1880-1918 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1983)

Stimulating study of the huge changes in technology and culture that took place between 1880 and the First World War, changing human perception of time and space. The emerging art/science of motion pictures is is integrated within the historiographical argument.

Simon Popple and Vanessa Toulmin (eds.), Visual Delights: Essays on the Popular and Projected Image in the 19th Century (Trowbridge: Flicks Books, 2000)

Collection of essays reflecting the wish to place early moving image studies within a wider history embracing socio-economic factors, technology and visual culture. Includes several essays specifically on Victorian cinema.

Thomas J. Schlereth, Victorian America: Transformations in Everyday Life, 1876-1915 (New York: HarperCollins, 1991)

Useful, thorough history of the impact of new technologies, particularly domestic and work-oriented products, and the profound effect that these had on American lives.

Matthew Sweet, Inventing the Victorians (London: Faber and Faber, 2001)

Entertaining collection of essays overturning modern preconceptions about the Victorians, showing them to be more radical and liberated than commonly supposed. Includes an essay on the first film shows and meeting of the worlds of the arts and early film through figures such as Thomas Hardy and Hubert von Herkomer.

Edward R. Tannebaum, 1900: The Generation Before the Great War (New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1976)

Wide-ranging portait of the effect of modernisation upon European society in the years 1890-1914, emphasising the profound changes brought about by compulsory education, cheap daily newspapers, motor cars, motion pictures, the movements for sexual liberation, and the emancipation of labour and women.

Alan Trachtenberg, The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age (New York: Hill and Wang, 1982)

Classic study of the rise of American corporations in the last third of the ninetenth century and the cultural changes that this brought about.