Patrick Hamilton was one of the most gifted and admired writers of his generation. His plays include Rope (1929), on which the Hitchcock thriller was based, and Gas Light (1939). Among his novels are The Midnight Bell, The Siege of Pleasure, The Plains of Cement, Twenty-thousand Streets Under the Sky, Hangover Square, The Slaves of Solitude and The West Pier. He died in 1962.The Sunday Telegraph said: 'His finest work can easily stand comparison with the best of this more celebrated contempories George Orwell and Graham Greene.'
Hamilton's third novel takes its name from a toy theatre and constructs a between-the-wars stage set of dreary provincial fleapit and transient West End glitter from personal experience of a profession that would dazzle, exhault and thwart him. The story of awkward ingenue Jackie begins, as did Hamilton, in Hove, from where she persues her dream to West Kensington, future backdrop of the author's greatest dramas. Jackie's fate is set as she steps on the train and meets Richard, a seasoned actor who will become her mentor and then lover - but not until she has "travelled not less than 20,000 miles" in rep, across the "infinite piquancies and horrors" of "Sunday England" - Guardian