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Charles Dibdin and Late Georgian Culture$
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Oskar Cox Jensen, David Kennerley, and Ian Newman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198812425

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198812425.001.0001

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Loyalism, Celebrity, and the Politics of Personality

Loyalism, Celebrity, and the Politics of Personality

Dibdin in the 1790s

Chapter:
(p.78) 5 Loyalism, Celebrity, and the Politics of Personality
Source:
Charles Dibdin and Late Georgian Culture
Author(s):

David Kennerley

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198812425.003.0006

Just as he began to achieve commercial success with his solo shows, Dibdin became embroiled in a series of libel trials following accusations in the press that his songs were plagiarized from Isaac Bickerstaff. Focusing on his response to these accusations, this chapter analyses Dibdin’s performances, exploring the ways in which his one-man shows traded on intimacy and personality. It offers a fresh interpretation of the political meanings of Dibdin’s songs, which have conventionally been depicted as straightforward propaganda. Loyalist, but by no means a ministerial mouthpiece, Dibdin used his carefully crafted reputation for independence and sincerity to offer satirical criticism of those in authority, and to claim to speak honestly about the true interests of the nation. This chapter exposes the increasingly pronounced effect of celebrity upon both contemporary theatre and political culture, and reassesses Dibdin’s widely influential brand of loyalism in this most turbulent decade in British politics.

Keywords:   loyalism, patriotism, celebrity, William Pitt, Isaac Bickerstaff, satire, public opinion, politics, 1790s, solo show

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