Irving Wardle

Look Back In Wonder

State of the Nation: British Theatre Since 1945


Faber & Faber 435pp £25 order from our bookshop

To Guardian readers, the premise of State of the Nation will come as no surprise. A history of British theatre since the war, it makes no mention of theatre in its main title, following Michael Billington’s belief that a nation and its theatre are inseparable. I share that belief, though always with relief that I have never had to defend it. As a theatre reviewer you can get away with slapping a sociopolitically relevant sticker on anything that takes your fancy, and in Billington’s own reviews few four-star recommendations have been awarded without one. In his book, however, he turns his back on that fly-by-night world and retraces his sixty years of theatrical experience so as to put his convictions to the test.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,
    • RT : One of my favourite literary magazines is celebrating 40 years this year. Here is the September edition of… ,
    • 'Now that the Thames is too fast-flowing to freeze, its spirit’s devotees ... have found other climes for their pri… ,
    • 'Bythell glowers past his till at a world in slow free fall.' on the travails of a second-hand book… ,
    • 'It is a scent of animal wrath, of instinctive need, of brutal life which affects the cultured nostrils of our civi… ,
    • 'The day produced countless stories of chance, of people taking one route or another without realising that the dec… ,