A novel by Michael Payne
The Swinging 1760s – a time of enterprise and opportunity. The Industrial Revolution is about to change England for ever. Fortunes are being made by men, including actors/managers who are building ambitious new provincial theatres. These little empires soon give rise to bitter disputs between rival companies.
Thomas Hammond, a young Army drummer, dreams of fame as an actor if only he can join the travelling Company of Comedians. But powerful Puritans still regard theatres as dwelling places of Satan with players no better than ‘rogues and vagabonds’ – full worthy of imprisonment.
Tom’s quest finds him associated with scheming showmen, social climbers, freaks, rioters and ruthless speculators.
His adventures are in turn comic and horrifying. Not only does he encounter love and jealousy, he must endure ridicule, assault and perhaps suspicion of murder in the confusion of 18th century privilege and poverty.