Lost Empires ePUB Ê Hardcover

Lost Empires ❰Reading❯ ➸ Lost Empires Author J.B. Priestley – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk Richard Herncastle's account of his life on the music hall alongside his Uncle Nick in the period immediately before the outbreak of the first World War in 1914This account of life in the Empire Theat Richard Herncastle's account of his life on the music hall alongside his Uncle Nick in the period immediately before the outbreak of the first World War in This account of life in the Empire Theatres of English Variety The cast is a travelling troupe of artistes dancers comedians jugglers magicians which include a murderer a depraved beauty a brilliant comedian in decay and the greatest conjurer on the English stage He is knows as Ganga Dun to his enormous audience and as Uncle Nick to the narrator of the storyYoung Herncastle is a good looking Yorkshire boy ambitious as a painter whom his uncle sweeps away from a dreary office job into the nomadic boozy evanescently amorous life of Variety performers on tour With them he learns the exacting craft of the stage and avidly explores the first yearnings and triumphs of both sex and love.


10 thoughts on “Lost Empires

  1. J. J. says:

    After some preliminary gasping and spluttering when Uncle Nick pretended I wasn’t there still watching him he moved off and a minute later he had vanished into the mist and smoke of the late October afternoon I had three large glasses of champagne inside me; I had just agreed to exchange an office stool and a sensible life in Bruddersford for some unimaginable music hall hocus pocus; I was only twenty and had never been away from homeTo locate the 2016 reader right away the context of Lost Empires is exactly that wherein the blustery Mister Carson of Downton Abbey had practiced his talents as one half of a comic team on the stages of turn of the century England on the playhouse variety circuit Before his eventual entry to butler service in a great manor house Same exact era same exact shabby disreputable hearts of gold In the United States it was called vaudeville or variety; in England ‘music hall’ In the days before the movies a live shaggy dog collection of novelty acts comedians sentimental song and a magic act Possibly an interval with a dancing bear or acrobats or jugglers A populist evening out for a few pennies a seat designed to divert and entertain no message or agenda involved In Britain as in the US there were chains of theatrical venues that sponsored and exhibited these practitioners called perhaps the World the Paramount the Ritz or the Empire It was for that era or less what we now call “cable television” As with other popular entertainments the interesting story happens backstage underneath the family friendly veneer of matinee ready clowns and tap dancers But author Priestley finds his subject as much in the color and atmosphere of Edwardian England as he does in the Music Hall milieu or any of the individual participants And what makes it all so interesting is just that—a predictable behind the footlights drama is transformed by virtue of its also being a time machine one that bears us to a distant world that even our grandparents have forgotten We’re carried back to just before the Great War when the ‘motorcar’ is a futuristic conveyance and the footlights run on gas Briefly the outline of the story is the tale of an apprentice Illusionist taken under the dark wing of his master magician Uncle Nick And yes all the names in the story will have a vaguely allusive ring Priestley frames the narrative as a present day early sixties reminiscence gazing back fondly to the lost world of 1913 gently sentimental but still avoiding none of the garish and gauche appointments we may expect in the circus world of music hall The memoir here is a road movie—our narrator and his peculiar band of artificers make their way throughout the length and breadth of the England of the day plying their wares on the industrial north as well as the seaside mainstays of the theater chain What goes on backstage may change with the venue and as the venues blur into one the little company of players and stagehands become their own family mash up unpredictable and well colorful When the unlikely bonds and absolutely show bizziest cliché moments fuse the company into a working group of diverse humanity the tour and the novel hit their stride; our wing and a prayer career choice finds its groove as does our reluctant apprentice sorcerer we were all rising with the tide of packed houses and enthusiastic appreciation Of course we were not like a theatrical company which comes to an audience as one unit We were so many entirely separate and independent acts but because we were touring together forming the greater part of one continuing bill we could respond together to a heart warming week like this So for the first time as far as my very limited experience went dressing room doors were left open except when people were actually dressing and congratulatory visits were exchanged together with some drink or there were smiling encounters along the corridors There was almost a party atmosphereSoap opera and internal power politics aside though there is much of both—what Lost Empires has as card up its sleeve is that central connection to Illusionism When the paper moons and painted backdrops are just about wearing thin something or other allows our protagonists to engage their trick imaginations on the real world offering what becomes the other major point of interest for the reader In the course of these extra curricular proceedings the predictability of the two houses per night is splintered and refocused In any theatrical memoir it is always this clash of cultures sensibilities the outside world barging in through the stage door –that seems to be the catalyst Truffaut’s Day For Night and a million other backstage romances come to mind immediatelyThe fixed points in the music hall constellation were the promenade and pier houses at the seaside After the grim winter months touring the north we land at what is the natural home base the environs of Blackpool Anything that could claim a few pennies or trap a sixpence was in full swing From the rowdy dowdy South Shore to the genteel North Shore the holiday money of the innocents was cascading down into the shows eating houses shops that sold nothing worth having the wine lodges and pubs into the outstretched hands of pierrots and buskers photographers fake auctioneers hoarse vendors of peppermint and pineapple blackpool rock and ice cream and candy floss fortune tellers dealers in comic hats false noses miniature walking sticks water pistols balloons and the things that rolled out as you blew and made rude noises And there were mornings when nothing seemed real except the children hurrying with their buckets and spades and the wind blowing from the sea Priestly builds to –surprise—a murder in the theater amongst the travelling company to create his final set piece for the book If it weren’t such an obvious ‘coda’ and closing segment it would be much successful and I’d argue that it could have been its own little mystery; where Priestley has it right though is that you’d never have such terrific exposition and character development in any short mystery as is already provided in the first two thirds of Lost EmpiresIf this reader were to be completely honest this is probably a very appealing four star novel; but there is something inexplicably dazzling to the eye and the imagination here something maybe of an illusion that prompts five twinkly period perfect silver foil stars


  2. C.S. Burrough C.S. Burrough says:

    I love this 1965 J P Priestley novel so much I've read it four times A young man's peep into a smoke swirling footlit world as he verges on adulthood this is classy intriguing and sad to put down when finishedIn the last months of peace before World War I ambitious young painter cum clerk Richard Herncastle's mother's dies Not yet of age he is taken under the wing of his maternal uncle Nick Ollanton known publicly as 'Ganga Dun the greatest conjurer on the English stage' Leaving his dull office job to join Uncle Nick's act Richard meets his team and the other touring 'artistes' on the bill a boozy nomadic troupe comprised of dancers comedians jugglers and so on They tour Britain performing on the legendary soon to vanish Empire variety theatre circuitGood looking young Herncastle sees all of life from backstage in music hall variety just as his uncle has promised He learns the ropes of stagecraft falls in love with a depraved beauty sees a long lost Britain in a way future generations will only hear about and even becomes privy to an intriguing murder investigation Richard comes of age in 1914 just as the greatest disappearing act of all is looming society as it would never again be knownThis fictional old man's fond retelling of his remarkable youth never fails to satisfy no matter how many times I return to it if only to flick through and browse my favourite episodes The haunting smell of greasepaint emanates from the pages of an evocative tale about a special time and professionThe multi award nominated 1986 miniseries featured Sir Laurence Olivier's penultimate screen performance as brilliant comedian in decay Harry Burrard with an early romantic lead casting of chirpy fresh faced Colin Firth alongside Pamela StephensonProud Yorkshire man Priestley famously snubbed the offer of becoming a lord the year Lost Empires was published He gladly accepted his hometown the city of Bradford granting him Freedom of the City in 1973 He was also honoured by the universities of Bradford and Birmingham Priestley eventually became a member of the Order of Merit in 1977 and served as a British delegate to UNESCO conferencesI highly recommend this rare literary jewel especially for lovers of theatre history nostalgia vintage whodunnits or just die hard J B Priestley fans


  3. Dorcas Dorcas says:

    Ok I gave this 124 pages and I'm just not enjoying it So many people love this so don't let me turn you off trying it I just wasn't feeling a connection to either the characters who are not very likeable or the overall feel of the story which is rather unhappy and coarseAlso in case you're wondering this is a slice of life story than plot drivenI still have a few other JB Priestley's to try so let's hope that when I get to them they hit the spotCONTENT PROFANITY liberal use of BHAD as well as coarse words like piss tits etcSEX Some sleeping around and general immorality non explicitMY RATING PG PG13


  4. Laura Laura says:

    From BBc radio 4 ExtraJB Priestley Lost EmpiresEpisode 1 of 3Overtures and Beginners1913 Richard Herncastle leaves his dead end job to join his Uncle Nick's act in the vulgar world of music halls to experience the glamour jealousies and romances backstageFirst NightEpisode 2 of 3It's the year before the Great War and Richard Herncastle 's music hall apprenticeship continuesRichard gets closer to Nancy but Harry Burrard's fears deepenFinal CurtainEpisode 3 of 3The glamour of the music halls begins to fade as Richard Herncastle embarks on a dangerous affair and tragedy strikes the companyMeanwhile war is on the horizonPublished in 1965 JB Priestley's classic dramatised in three parts by Bert CoulesStars Tom Baker as Nick Ollanton Freddie 'Parrot Face' Davies as Harry Burrard Bryan Pringle as Old Richard Richard Hollick as Young Richard Steven Frost as Tommy Beamish Brigit Forsyth as Julie Blane Deborah McAndrew as Cissie Mapes Kathryn Hunt as Nancy Russell Dixon as Jenning John Lloyd Fillingham as Johnson and Mike Edmunds as BarneyMusic Chris MonksProducer Kate RowlandFirst broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1994httpswwwbbccoukprogrammesb007


  5. Bettie Bettie says:

    Bettie's Books


  6. Owen Owen says:

    Lost Empires takes us back into the world of the music hall in England in the early part of this century Mr Priestley's gift is characterization and here he takes us on a merry dance around the traps with as fell a cast as ever graced the none too genteel provincial stage It is a book with laughter for itself and for its comic characters and as always with J B Priestley it has its moments of social satire in which we can all perhaps feel we might be at home Like the longer sturdier tale Good Companions Lost Empires will leave you on a high having completed a very satisfactory tour of a world long vanished but whose echoes are still recognizable today Language and craft satire and straight out good fun all abound here Happily Mr Priestley does not leave us dangling for want of ; numerous other works of his are still in print today which I suppose is the proof of this particular pudding Not to be overlooked


  7. Jean Jean says:

    JB Priestley was a wonderful writer and I enjoyed reading this novel once again The tale is set in 19131914 up to the commencement of World War 1 The description of variety artists travelling from town to town each week to play at the various Empires is brilliant The Monday band call the train journeys to different places and the theatrical lodgings both good and bad paint an accurate picture of life on the variety stage Although the setting is over a hundred years ago it shows that things were not very different in those days than they are at present The only difference is that there are not nearly as many theatres now as they were then and the artists in 1913 presented a wide spectrum of different types of performers By the mid fifties of the twentieth century it seems that pop idols were the mainstay of varietyMy next re read will be Let the People Sing


  8. Fannie Dagenais Fannie Dagenais says:

    Brilliant novel so touching so endearing I read it again from time to time and it never fails to cheer me up


  9. jennifer jennifer says:

    A novel written as a memoir this is narrated by Richard Herncastle the famous English painter Left poor and on his own at twenty Richard is surprised to be rescued by the black sheep of the family his Uncle Nick a magician on the traveling music hall circuit of 1913 Becoming part of Nick's act learning about thinking on one's feet and living with the people who made their living moving from stage to stage gives Richard experiences he never would have had in his tiny Northern townOn the surface this probably sounds like a book of sweet nostalgia for the days of the Edwardian music halls The world of acrobats dog acts and audiences adoring grown women dressed as little girls are remembered but not with fondness Richard's dealings with his prickly Uncle Nick his attractions to women and his growing confidence make up the real plot but we also get an affair with an older woman violence and infidelities a murder and Uncle Nick's treatment of his girlfriend Cissie is the opposite of romantic Highly recommended


  10. Philip Philip says:

    Lost Empires by J B Priestley purports to be an autobiography of Richard usually Dick Herncastle an artist a painter of watercolours In his foreword to the book Priestley tells us that what follows barring an epilogue seen from the perspective of decades in the future is the text that Richard Herncastle wrote for himself his incomplete attempt at autobiography But this is also only a sketch of a life since it covers only a short period of the artist’s early adult life a period in which at the age of twenty in 1913 he left home to work as an assistant to a music hall illusionist Priestley initially claims that his only contribution has been the ordering of the material and the adjustment of the occasional wordThe bones of Herncastle’s story assemble into an enthralling beast At the start he enters a world that feels very much rooted in the nineteenth century Public entertainment is available largely via live on stage performers in the music hall with most towns of any size having their own theatres And this is a world at peace By the book’s end however the First World War has begun and Richard Herncastle’s illusionist boss Nick Ollanton is already predicting that it will last for years By the start of the next decade of course live theatres were very much in decline as cinema audiences grew at pace Thus at the book’s end there arises a tremendous sense of impending and inevitable change Not only young Richard’s life is about to be changed into some new hardly recognisable form but the world itself is about to be utterly transformed Interestingly from this starting point we note that Richard himself was born at the end of the nineteenth century so his character is the very embodiment of that changeLost Empires is in effect a coming of age novel a story of personal transition When Richard leaves home to join his uncle on tour in theatre land we have the distinct impression that he has thus far seen very little of life We learn little of his childhood and adolescence and even less of his adult life thus far Being just twenty of course he would not in that age have been regarded as an adult since that label would not have applied for a further year And it is the months he spends on tour with his uncle’s conjuring act that form the only focus of the bookThe character himself has firmly recognised albeit some decades hence just how important this period of his life proved to be In those months he left behind family life lived independently discovered sex and found a wife His companions were heavy drinking performers including dwarves and women who wore costumes that showed their bodies something that could only happen on the stage He met Americans and Italians and spent most of his own time on stage impersonating an Indian His uncle instinctively knew what would work in his act and directed with an iron grip What might work in life off the stage however young Richard had yet to discoverBut there is another layer of comment embedded in this book and it’s exactly the type of comment on would expect from Priestley writing in the 1960s and thus commenting and offering perspectives on contemporary Britain The 1960s was the decade we were told when the British discovered sex The view has become mainstream to the extent that great writers can without uestion present pre 1960s Britain as an era when sex was a difficult subject not to be mentioned The 1960s was also an age of pop stars free living free love and almost free booze touring bands on the road and adoring audiences themselves drunk on celebrity And so in Lost Empires Priestley presents the world of pre First World War music hall with its travelling stars its free flowing champagne its astronomical earnings its celebrities and its own free flowing sexIt is the character of Julie Blane who provides much of the action for Richard and for the book as a whole Julie is an older woman still beautiful but scarred by life after her partner walked out She drinks a lot and craves sex at least according to Richard’s acuaintances among the cast They advise him to beware He duly ignores themIn the book’s epilogue it is Richard’s wife herself one of the travelling players of yesteryear who suggests that her husband’s description of his physical relationship with Julie in his memoirs might raise eyebrows but crucially for Priestley she does this from the 1960s at a time when thinking on such issues was apparently already liberated from the shackles of the past In the book it is Richard and Julie who are utterly unshackled in 1913 Nay the author is saying to contemporary assumptions in his no nonsense Yorkshire tonesLost Empires is a world of soon to be closed theatres that happen to be called Empires Every town had one or something like it But by the time the book was written by its imaginary autobiographer Britain had also lost another Empire that it had possessed in 1913 By implication Priestley also suggests that the nation as a whole may also have come of age as a result of the warLost Empires is beautifully written imaginative and evocative It can be read as a simple account of a young man’s experiment with show business but like so much of Priestley’s work there is comment on history and especially on contemporary society so that the present may be fairly assessed Lost Empires deserves wide and repeated reading


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