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Eighteenth Century Drama

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American Reference Books Annual, December 2016

At a time when primary sources are providing significant value to scholarly studies, Adam Matthew Digital continues to digitize fragile and valuable documents. Adding to its 2016 databases is Eighteenth Century Drama: Censorship, Society and Stage, an exploration of English theatre. Academic and collection specialists have added their expertise through essays and evaluations. Participating libraries, theatres, and museums have contributed to this collection.

Information is easily accessed by a line of tabs: Documents, London Stage, Biographical Dictionary, Explore, Image Galleries, and Help. Content links easily between access points when research is to focus on one theme such as the Covent Garden Theatre and the performance history at this location. Visual tiles for access are grouped by chronology, diaries, essays, external links, performance data associations, search directories, tally sheets for Drury Lane, and theatres found in London during this period.

Navigation to a specific theatrical document will provide thumbnails that magnify and a table detailing the specifics of the archival information. Dates, content type (i.e., play, opera), location of original, and other pertinent details will be found in this table. Documents may be saved in a personal archive or downloaded in PDF format; images are stored with lightbox. Diversity of access includes Data Visualizations, a clear use of data where charting organizes data.

Eighteenth Century Drama focuses on the plays of John Larpent. With over 2,500 plays, the digitized information here is a collection of advertisements, biographical details, companion texts, portraits, and theatrical figures, as well as the dramas themselves. In addition to the history of entertainment, scholars will find strong social commentary and emphasis on the role of theatre in society. Correspondence of a "Letter from Thomas Sheridan to Jonathan Swift" or more solitary critiquing of eighteenth-century entertainment in Anna Larpent's diaries all add to the diversity of formats that come together to form the overall impression of stage performance and the industry during this time and how it affected society. 

Eighteenth Century Drama: Censorship, Society and Stage is an extensive collection of primary performance documents that solidify historical, societal, and recreational themes in the world of early theatre production in England. This information will be most useful to advanced degree theatre art students, history, or sociology scholars, professors of eighteenth-century history, and researchers seeking original documentation in the area of English drama and culture.


Janis Minshull
American Reference Books Annual, December 2016

CHOICE, January 2017

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through researchers/faculty; professionals/practitioners. 

W. Miller, Florida Atlantic University
CHOICE, January 2017