Theatre Periodical Series: Unit 2: Nineteenth Century Theatre Periodicals

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Theater periodicals are an invaluable -- yet scarce -- source for theater research. They have long been used for inquiries into performance and for critical responses to acting and to plays.

These key theatrical periodicals demonstrate the Victorian stage's growing popularity and wider acceptance as a source of entertainment. They show how Britain, during the Industrial Revolution, developed a major commercial network of theaters.

They also contribute to the understanding of theater audiences of the period. These varied periodicals betray their reader's social class, their occupation, literacy, levels and kinds of education, theatrical preferences and expectation, and both musical and decorative tastes.

Among the subjects covered in these periodicals are:

  • Reviews of new plays and news of forthcoming production
  • Criticism of individual performances
  • Illustration of popular scenes
  • Biographies, pen portraits and cartoons of theatrical personalities
  • "Green Room" topics of the day

Unit Two: 54 reelsPart One: From the British Library, Bloomsbury--18 reels
Part Two: From the British Library Newspaper Library--23 reels
Part Three: From the Theater Museum, London and the Bodleian Library, Oxford--13 reels


"The drama series offers a wide range of significant and hitherto unavailable sources to the scholar who intends to study the popular stage in depth." -- Dr. David Mayer Department of Drama University of Manchester

— David Mayer, Dr.

"An invaluable source of documentation on London theatres and those of the provinces for the crucial early years of the 20th century." -- Mr. Donald Roy Director of Drama University of Hull

— Donald Roy