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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
August 2023
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Book description

This collection reveals the wide-ranging impact of the Stage Licensing Act of 1737 on literary and theatrical culture in Georgian Britain. Demonstrating the differing motivations of the state in censoring public performances of plays after the Stage Licensing Act of 1737 and until the Theatres Act 1843, chapters cover a wide variety of theatrical genres across a century and show how the mechanisms of formal censorship operated under the Lord Chamberlain's Examiner of Plays. They also explore the effects of informal censorship, whereby playwrights, audiences and managers internalized the censorship regime. As such, the volume moves beyond a narrow focus on erasures and emendations visible on manuscripts to elucidate censorship's wide-ranging significance across the long eighteenth century. Demonstrating theatre archives' potency as a resource for historical research, this volume is of exceptional value for researchers interested in the evolving complexities of Georgian society, its politics and mores.


‘Take a bow. This roll-call of leading scholars in theatre history work as a company to uncover the complex stories of censorship that unfolded after the stage Licensing Act of 1737. They delve into the substantial archives of manuscripts submitted for license to the Lord Chamberlain’s office and explore ways of interpreting the record that are of significance for historians not only of literature and theatre, but also of the city, of social class, and of culture. Like all good theatre, this essay collection will have a long life in the memory of its audience and the work that follows it.’

Ros Ballaster - University of Oxford

‘This exciting collection of essays offers insightful analyses of the impact of the threat and reality of theatrical censorship in the eighteenth-century on writing and performance. Perhaps even more importantly, it models new ways of working with and thinking about theatrical archives such as the Larpent Collection and the Lord Chamberlain’s Plays.’

Elaine McGirr - University of Bristol

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