Zuleika Books to Release THE BEST OF THE WEST END by Charles Duff

Charles Duff casts a lens on British theatre in the mid to late twentieth century, revisiting many of the best productions of those years.

By: Jan. 17, 2022
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Zuleika Books to Release THE BEST OF THE WEST END by Charles Duff

Charles Duff's The Best of the West End: The Life and Work of Frith Banbury, will be published on 24 February 2022 by Zuleika Books. A wonderful mixture of scholarship and gossip, this biography will fascinate and amuse everyone who loves theatre.

Taking the career of one man, the actor, producer and director Frith Banbury, Charles Duff casts a lens on British theatre in the mid to late twentieth century, revisiting many of the best productions of those years. The resulting book is a vital and necessary re-evaluation of the era.

The popular myth is that there was nothing of any worth in the mid-century British theatre until 1956, when John Osborne and the Angry Young Men at The Royal Court Theatre stormed the stage. In fact, the West End of the thirties, forties and fifties was remarkable both for its actors - such as Sybil Thorndike, Edith Evans, Ralph Richardson - and its playwrights, including Terence Rattigan, John Whiting, Robert Bolt, Wynyard Browne and N.C. Hunter.

Originally published as The Lost Summer: The Heyday of the West End Theatre in 1995 by Nick Hern Books, the book has been updated with some textual revisions and a comprehensive epilogue, recounting the thirteen years of Frith Banbury's life between the book's first publication and his death in 2008. Also, a critical reassessment of the plays and playwrights portrayed so vividly, descriptions of revivals of the plays and whether the book's original judgements and predictions were right or wrong.

Author, Charles Duff, said: "I am very glad that I have been able to revise and update this book which gave me so much pleasure to write and the opportunity to meet and interview luminaries of the theatre past, who are here no longer. Overjoyed too that Frith Banbury's name is now on the cover and that the work and life of this unusual and amusing man, who contributed so much to the theatre of his day, can be reappraised by those who remember his work, or be introduced to a new generation of theatre lovers."

Zuleika Books publisher, Tom Perrin, said: "I am thrilled to be publishing Charley again. His majestic memoir Charley's Woods was the book that got me into publishing in the first place - and is the book I am proudest to have published to date. The Best of the West End offers readers a description of a theatre world which has gone and is, in some ways neglected but, as recent revivals have shown, being reconsidered and admired'."

Charles Duff was born in 1949. He is an actor, a lecturer in Shakespeare and theatre history, and a contributor to the national press on arts-related subjects. He has lived between Los Angeles, London, Paris and Tangier and he is now a Brother of the London Charterhouse. His memoir, Charley's Woods: Sex, Sorrow & a Spiritual Quest in Snowdonia was published in 2017.

The Best of the West End: The Life and Work of Frith Banbury is available from book shops and online retailers from 24 February 2022.


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