Farewell the trumpets


Farewell the Trumpets is the title of the final volume of the Pax Britannica trilogy on the rise and fall of the British Empire, written by the late Jan Morris. As the three books mostly cover the Victorian era, with the third opening with Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, it feels like a good title for a short post announcing the closure of a Victorian venture.

Back in 1996 the British Film Institute published a book to mark the centenary of cinema in Britain, Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema: A Worldwide Survey, edited by Stephen Herbert and myself. It comprised some 250 short biographies of people across the world – men, women, and one horse – who each played a role in the so-called invention of cinema. In 2003 we converted it into a website, over the years adding a further fifty or so entries. Book and website made their modest mark.

Now, at the end of 2020, we are bringing Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema to a close. It is a challenge, maybe even an impossible task, to keep an online reference source continuously up-to-date, and as both editors became caught up in other things, it became increasingly an infrequent task for us. It also needed moving onto a database platform, but the site had become so unwieldy that it was just going to take too long to do. We decided it was best to call a halt to adding anything further to the site. It would exist, as any printed work, as a reference work specific to a particular point in time – in this case, 2020.

We will keep the site online, only with a message on the banner saying that the site has now been archived and is no longer being updated. It will exist, one hopes forever, on the Internet Archive and on the UK Web Archive, but we’re keeping the site itself still visible because of the number of links to it that exist, particularly on Wikipedia.

So the site is till there. It’s just permanently resting.

Our thanks go to all those who have contributed to the site – writing pieces, offering corrections, providing illustrations, answering our questions. In particular, I’d like to thank those no longer with us who contributed to book and website: John Barnes, Dave Berry, Richard Brown, Brian Coe, Denis Gifford, Mervyn Heard, and Rashit Yangirov. May their good work live on.

We’re off to do other things, but I hope that there are new researchers out there who will look at what we did and think, hmm, I could could do better than that, and then go out and do so. The first years of cinema is amazing subject to explore, and it needs fresh eyes. Off you go.


  • The Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema site is here and the Internet Archive copy is here and the UK Web Archive version is here. Web archives are marvellous things.
  • I wrote about the history of book and website here: Meet the Victorians
  • Stephen Herbert has just launched a blog on early optical media technologies, The Optilogue. It’s very fine.
  • I have assorted things lined up, which you’ll be hearing about here, in due course. New stuff is good


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