HSS Research Seminar Series: Professor Rohan McWilliam - 'The West End of London Between the Wars'

Events — Talk Helmore 201 & Microsoft Teams
30 January 2023, 17:00

This is the second talk of the HSS Research Seminar Series. Professor Rohan McWilliam will talk about the West End of London between the two world wars.


By 1914 most of the forms of pleasure that we associate with the West End of London had been established. It was a global centre of entertainment associated with theatres, cinemas, restaurants, hotels and department stores. In this paper I want to consider how this developed in the inter-war years. I chart a tension between forms of modernity (including jazz and the night club) and more traditional cultural forms aimed at creating a safe evening out for a middle-class public. In particular, this period witnessed the increasing domination of West End shows by the firm of H.M.Tennent, the 'Fortnum and Mason of British theatre', which arguably stood for more conventional forms of drama. I draw upon a range of contemporaries including Virginia Woolf, the theatre critic James Agate and the diarist Anthony Heap. The paper explores themes that will shape my history of the West End in the post-1914 period.

London's West End Between the Wars
London's West End Between the Wars

Event contact: Jeannette Baxter and Melanie Bell: HSSresearch@aru.ac.uk