University of Exeter Press

The Beginnings Of The Cinema In England,1894-1901: Volume 1


    • 312 Pages

    Describing in detail one of the most inventive periods in the history of English cinema, the volumes in this celebrated series are already established as classics in their field. Each volume details the highlights of a single cinematic year, including details of production, manufacturers of equipment, dealers and exhibitors. This is augmented by numerous carefully chosen illustrations and a comprehensive filmography of English films, fiction and non-fiction, for the year.

    Taking the Kinetoscope as its point of departure, Volume 1 explores in depth the progress made in the field of cinematography up until the end of 1896, by which time the film had become the main attraction of almost every major music hall in Great Britain. The contribution made by inventors such as R.W. Paul and Birt Acres is discussed in detail, as is also the work of hitherto forgotten pioneers of the British film.

    This volume is edited by Richard Maltby and has a foreword by David Robinson.

    ‘The legacy of John Barnes to the study of early cinema can hardly be overestimated.’
    The Beginnings of Cinema in England is a monumental work and an essential reference guide.  Its availability as a paperback is especially welcome to (graduate) students as the five volumes are very complete in situating the birth of cinema within its historical context.’
    (Gert Jan Harkema, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, September 2015)


    '. . . Essential reading . . . A labour of love that will intrigue any cineaste.' (Film Quarterly)


    'Film studies for years to come will be indebted to him for having immeasurably enriched the literature on his subject.' (Quarterly Review of Film Studies)


    'The eagerly awaited publication of John Barnes' fifth volume marks the final instalment of this groundbreaking series . . . It seemed for a while that it might never see the light of day. That it has done so, and that the other books in the series have been re-issued, is testimony not only to John's tenacity, but to the foresight of Exeter University Press . . . The series has become the standard reference text for English cinema of this period, with its combination of technical, biographical and contextual information … As well as providing reliable and comprehensive reference material for film scholars these books are eminently accessible and entertaining. They are a significant contribution to the canon of film scholarship and a fitting testimony to a lifetime's dedication to the cinema.' (Screening the Past, May 2000)


    'The five Barnes' volumes stand as a solid work of reference to one of the most imaginative and creative periods of cinema in Britain or anywhere else.' (Screening the Past, May 2000)


    'Perhaps it is a symptom of this change that the Barnes brothers have now found a publisher in the form of the University of Exeter Press, who have not only brought out this latest volume in style, but have re-issued volumes 2 to 4 in a uniform binding (with a promise of a totally revised volume 1 in 1998). Perhaps, at last, the British academic and archival establishments are coming to appreciate the fascination of the early cinema, a fascination that John and William Barnes have felt for over 60 years. (Film History, Vol. 10, No. 1, 1998)


    'This remarkable set of books should be in every university library in the country, and on the shelves of every film historian.' (Viewfinder, No. 32, February 1998)


    'Beginnings of the Cinema in England belongs beside such founding works as Rachael Low's History of the British Film and Denis Gifford's British Film Catalogue. It is an essential work in the literature of the film.' (Film Quarterly)



    Foreword by David Robinson
    Preface to the First Edition
    Preface to the Second Edition

    1. The Kinetoscope
    2. The Paul-Acres Camera
    3. Paul's Time Machine
    4. The Theatrograph
    5. The Kinetic Camera and Kineopticon of Birt Acres
    6. The Cinematographe-Lumiere
    7. Exploitation of the Theatrograph
    8. Independent Exhibitors of the Theatrograph
    9. Other Inventors and Exhibitors
    10. Apparatus from Abroad
    11. Royal Film Performances
    12. Film Production
    13. Conclusion
    1. British Films of 1895-1896
    2. Lumiere Films Photographed in the United Kingdom 1896-1897
    3. Chronology
    Film Index
    General Index



    John Barnes wrote extensively on the beginnings of the cinema and on pre-cinema history. With his twin brother, Bill, he produced a collection of films documenting life in Kent in the 1930s.
    In 1997 John and his twin-brother William Barnes were awarded the Jean Mitry prize by the Pordenone Silent Film Festival in Italy for their distinguished contribution to silent cinema. In 2006 they received honorary doctorates from Stirling University.



      • 312 Pages