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The Cambridge History of British Theatre

Volume 1. Origins to 1660


Part of The Cambridge History of British Theatre

John C. Coldewey, John J. McGavin, Paul Whitfield White, Peter Happé, Jane Milling, Peter H. Greenfield, Suzanne Westfall, Douglas Bruster, Diana E. Henderson, Andrew Gurr, Richard Allen Cave, Martin White, Roslyn L. Knutson, Janette Dillon, David Lindley, Peter Thomson, Richard Dutton, Martin Butler, Janet Clare
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  • Date Published: March 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107497078

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About the Authors
  • Volume 1 of The Cambridge History of British Theatre begins in Roman Britain and ends with Charles II's restoration to the throne imminent. The four essays in Part I treat pre-Elizabethan theatre, the eight in Part II focus on the riches of the Elizabethan era, and the seven in Part III on theatrical developments during and after the reigns of James I and Charles I. The essays are written for the general reader by leading British and American scholars, who combine an interest in the written drama with an understanding of the material conditions of the evolving professional theatre which the drama helped to sustain, often enough against formidable odds. The volume unfolds a story of enterprise, innovation and, sometimes, of desperate survival over years in which theatre and drama were necessarily embroiled in the politics of everyday life: a vivid subject vividly presented.

    • The first of three volumes looking at the turbulent public life of performance in Britain
    • Contains nineteen essays written by leading British and American scholars
    • Features case studies of famous plays in performance and is fully illustrated
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'A valuable contribution to scholarship through nineteen fine essays.' Sixteenth Century Journal

    'This work makes delightful reading.' Frederick Tollini, Renaissance Quarterly

    '… a set that will stand as the most valuable resource on British theater for some time to come. Essential.' Choice

    '… exceptional … destined to prove one of the most erudite, and yet accessible, resources for theatre scholars and students as well as serious theatre practitioners … must be hailed as perhaps the most carefully compiled and comprehensively covered history ever attempted … I know of no library that has any other theatre history (focusing exclusively on British Theatre) on its shelves to challenge this great new work's pole position in the theatre reference stakes … All in all a great work.' Amateur Stage

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107497078
    • length: 572 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 153 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.91kg
    • contains: 40 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    General preface
    Part I. Pre-Elizabethan Theatre:
    1. From Roman to Renaissance in drama and theatre John C. Coldewey
    2. Faith, pastime, performance and drama in Scotland to 1603 John J. McGavin
    3. The Bible as play in Reformation England Paul Whitfield White
    4. Drama in 1553: continuity and change Peter Happé
    Part II. Elizabethan Theatre:
    5. The development of a professional theatre, 1540–1660 Jane Milling
    6. Drama outside London after 1540 Peter H. Greenfield
    7. 'An example of courtesy and liberality': great households and performance Suzanne Westfall
    8. The birth of an industry Douglas Bruster
    9. Theatre and controversy, 1572–1603 Diana E. Henderson
    10. The condition of theatre in England in 1599 Andrew Gurr
    11. Ben Jonson's Every Man in his Humour: a case study Richard Allen Cave
    12. London professional playhouses and performances Martin White
    Part III. Jacobean and Caroline Theatre:
    13. Working playwrights, 1580–1642 Roslyn L. Knutson
    14. Theatre and controversy, 1603–42 Janette Dillon
    15. The Stuart masque and its makers David Lindley
    16. Clowns, fools and knaves: stages in the evolution of acting Peter Thomson
    17. Thomas Middleton's A Game at Chess: a case study Richard Dutton
    18. The condition of the theatres in 1642 Martin Butler
    19. Theatre and Commonwealth Janet Clare
    Works cited

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    The Cambridge History of British Theatre

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  • Editors

    Jane Milling, University of Exeter
    Jane Milling is Lecturer in Drama at the University of Exeter. She has written on Restoration performers and female dramatists. Her work in the modern period includes co-authorship with Graham Ley of Modern Theories of Performance: From Stanislavski to Boal (2001).

    Peter Thomson, University of Exeter
    Peter Thomson is Emeritus Professor of Drama at the University of Exeter. His books include Shakespeare's Theatre (1992), Mother Courage and Her Children (1997), Shakespeare's Professional Career (Cambridge University Press, 1999) and On Actors and Acting (2000).


    John C. Coldewey, John J. McGavin, Paul Whitfield White, Peter Happé, Jane Milling, Peter H. Greenfield, Suzanne Westfall, Douglas Bruster, Diana E. Henderson, Andrew Gurr, Richard Allen Cave, Martin White, Roslyn L. Knutson, Janette Dillon, David Lindley, Peter Thomson, Richard Dutton, Martin Butler, Janet Clare

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