Lost Empires by JB Priestley [1987]
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Published by : Vintage in 1987

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NOTE: This is the first Vintage edition

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 1914.

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 story.

Young 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.