After a spell of marking up categories, transcribing titles or tapping in dates, you might fancy reading something about the shows, the plays and the theatre!
Here are some reference sources for useful historical context and background for the playbills found on 'In the Spotlight'. The books contain definitions of theatrical and dramatic terms; information about named plays; biographical details for actors and dramatists; and accounts of the theatres themselves. There are also some sources that look at the print and design of the playbills. The focus period of currently digitised playbills is from the 1780s to the 1860s, but there are works that look at the broader period.
This is in no sense intended to be comprehensive. 'In the Spotlight' is a collaborative and participatory space -
so please do feel free to add details of books you think might be useful! Happy reading ...
Arnott, J.F. English theatrical literature, 1559- 1900: a bibliography, incorporating Robert W. Lowe's "A bibliographical account of English theatrical literature" published in 1888 London: Society for Theatre Research, 1970.
Bailey, Peter, Leisure and Class in Victorian England: Rational Recreation and the Contest for Control London, Routledge, 1978.
Bailey, Peter, Popular Culture and Performance in the Victorian City Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Balme, Christopher Playbills and the theatrical public sphere in: Representing the past ; essay s in performance historiography edited by Charlotte M. Canning and Thomas Postlewait. Iowa City, University of Iowa Press, 2010.
Banham, Martin (Ed.) The Cambridge guide to theatre Cambridge, CUP, 1995.
Booth, Michael. Theatre in the Victorian age Cambridge, CUP, 1991.
Booth, Michael. Victorian spectacular theatre 1850-1910 London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981.
Bryan, George. Stage lives : a bibliography and index to theatrical biographies in English London, Greenwood, 1985.
Conolly, L. W. & Wearing, J. P. English drama and theatre, 1800 – 1900: a guide to information sources Detroit, Gale Research, 1978.
Davis, J. and Elmeljanow, V. Reflecting the audience : London theatre going 1840-1880 Hatfield, University of Hertfordshire Press, 2001.
Davis, Tracy. Actresses as working women : their social identity in Victorian Culture London, Routledge, 1991.
Davis, Tracy. The economics of the British stage, 1800-1914 Cambridge, CUP, 2000.
Donohue, Joseph (Ed.) The Cambridge history of British theatre : volume 2 1660 to 1895 Cambridge, CUP, 2004.
Edwards, Adrian. Provincial theatre in Britain, 1773-1808: the Burney playbills examined in:
Theatre Notebook 57.3, 2003: pp. 136-142.
Ennis, D.J. and Slagle, Judith Bailey Prologues, epilogues, curtain-raisers, and after-pieces : the rest of the eighteenth-century London stage Newark, University of Delaware Press, c.2007.
Fletcher, I. British theatre, 1530-1900. An exhibition of books, prints, drawings, manuscripts and playbills organized by I.K.Fletcher for the National Book League, October-December, 1950 [London], Cambridge University Press, 1950.
Forbes, Derek Illustrated playbills : a study together with a reprint of "A descriptive catalogue of theatrical wood engravings" (1865) London, Society for Theatre Research, 2002.
Fowler, James (Ed.) Images of show business from the Theatre Museum, V&A London, Methuen, 1982.
Gowen, David. R. Studies in the history and function of the British theatre playbill and programme, 1564-1914 (unpublished PhD Thesis, Oxford, 1998).
Grantley, Darryll. Historical dictionary of British theatre : early period Lanham, Scarecrow Press, 2013.
Highfill, P.H. (Ed.). A biographical dictionary of actors, actresses, musicians, dancers, managers, and other stage personnel in London, 1660-1800 Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Press, 1973-1993.
Leech, Clifford (Ed.). The Revels history of drama in English : volume 6 1750-1880 London, Routledge, 1996.
Martin, Gordon. The Playbill : the development of its typographical style Chicago, Institute of Design of the Illinois Institute of Technology, 1963.
Morash, C. A history of Irish theatre, 1601-2000 Cambridge, CUP, 2002.
Morash, C. and Richards, S. Mapping Irish theatre : theories of space and place Cambridge, CUP, 2013.
Jackson, Russell (Ed.). Victorian theatre London, Black, 1989.
Kennedy, Dennis (Ed.). The Oxford companion to theatre and performance Oxford, OUP, 2010.
Kruger, Loren. The national stage : theatre and cultural legitimation in England, France and America London, University of Chicago Press, 1992.
Law, Jonathan (Ed.) The Methuen drama dictionary of the theatre London, Methuen Drama, 2011.
Meisel, M. Realizations : narratives, pictorial and theatrical arts in nineteenth-century England Guildford, Princeton University Press, c.1983.
Mullin, D. Victorian plays : a record of significant productions on the London stage, 1837-1901 London, Greenwood, 1987.
Oenslager, Donald. Stage design : four centuries of scenic invention London, Thames & Hudson, 1975.
Pavis, Patrice. Dictionary of the theatre : terms, concepts and analysis translated by Christine Shantz. Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1998.
Powell, K. Women and Victorian theatre Cambridge, CUP, 1997.
Rowell, G. Victorian theatre, 1792-1914 : a survey Cambridge, CUP, 1978.
Senelick, L. (Ed.). National theatre in Northern and Eastern Europe, 1746-1900 Cambridge, CUP, 1991.
Southern, R. Changeable scenery. Its origin and development in British theatre London, Faber & Faber, 1952.
Southern, R. The Victorian theatre : a pictorial survey Newton Abbot, David & Charles .
Stratman, C. J.Britain’s theatrical periodicals, 1720-1967 New York, New York Public Library, 1972.
Tanitch, R. London stage in the nineteenth century Lancaster, Carnegie Publishing in association with Westminster City Archives, 2010.
Trewin, J.C. The Pomping folk in the nineteenth-century theatre London, J.M. Dent & Sons, 1968.
Van Lennep, W. (et al) Index to the London stage 1660-1800 Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Press, .
Winslow, C. The Oberon glossary of theatrical terms : theatre jargon explained London, Oberon, 2011.
Wood, Robert. The Victorian provincial printer and the stage. An essay based on information gleaned from the papers left by John Procter and his son Newcastle, Imprint Club, 1972.
Contemporary theatrical press (chronologically)
The Era – published from September 1838 – September 1939.
The London Daily Guide and Stranger’s Companion – published 1859-1860
Illustrated Sporting News and Theatrical and Musical Review – published from 1862 -1870
London Entr’acte: Illustrated theatrical and musical critic and advertiser- published from 1869-1907.
Theatre notebook London, Society for Theatre Research , 1945-