Twentieth-century pageants : word, music, and drama in inter-war Britain
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis investigates the understudied genre of twentieth-century British pageants and highlights their literary, musical, dramatic, cultural, and political significance. Contributing methodologies and readings to pageant studies and to single author and composer studies, this study focuses on works by Virginia Woolf, Hugh Walpole, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, Martin Shaw, and Ralph Vaughan Williams. Critical research on pageants, despite the interdisciplinary nature of the genre, remains divided by discipline-specific boundaries. This thesis, therefore, adopts an interdisciplinary approach, drawing especially on Word and Music studies, and examines the sometimes-close collaborations between writers, composers, and directors. The study examines three different types of pageant texts—pageant novels, pageant plays, and pageants—each foregrounded by a different methodology: close reading, reconstructive archival research, and intertextual analysis. The introduction begins with a brief overview of the critical work on pageants, focusing on the way pageants were described in the twentieth century and in recent scholarship and proposing a standardised terminology before discussing the relevant literature on pageants and outlining the thesis structure. Chapter I offers an overview of the social history of pageants in twentieth-century Britain. Chapter II examines Woolf’s and Walpole’s pageant novels Between the Acts (1941) and The Inquisitor (1935), demonstrating both writers’ knowledge of and engagement with pageants. Chapter III analyses the pageant play The Rock (1934), tracing Eliot’s and Shaw’s collaborative creative process. Chapter IV interrogates Forster’s and Vaughan Williams’s The Pageant of Abinger (1934) and England’s Pleasant Land (1938), identifying textual and musical intertexts and tracing the collaborative process. The Afterword examines pageant afterlives and pageants in the twenty-first century.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2026-11-9
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 9th November 2026
Items in the St Andrews Research Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.