The best news recently was that The London Stage is now available online. This is a tremendous and immensely helpful resource compiled from contemporary sources like newspaper advertisements, playbills and more. What was performed in theatres and other places of entertainment in London during that era?
- The London Stage 1660 - 1800. A Calendar Of Plays, Entertainments & Afterpieces Together With Casts, Box-Receipts And Contemporary Comment, 5 Pts. in 11 Vols, ed. by William van Lennep et al., Carbondale 1960-68
I occasionally go to the university library in Köln where they have a complete set. The books looked as if they hadn't been used for the last 10 years. But I needed them regularly because this work is also important for research into British music history during that period. To be true these were the kind of books I really enjoy. I could spend hours with them. In fact I did because it answered many questions I had, for example: when did Kitty Clive first perform "Ellen a Roon" in London? On March 8, 1742, after the third act of the comedy The Man Of Mode at the theatre in Drury Lane (London Stage 3.2, p. 974). Or: When was Burk Thumoth's first documented performance? On May 13, 1730, at the age of 13, at Goodman's Field (London Stage 3.1, p. 60).
Thankfully these books are now available online at the Hathi Trust Digital Library as searchable and downloadable pdfs with a CC BY-NC license:
Of course it is now also possible to link directly to the relevant pages. Here are for example the links to Kitty Clive in Vol. 3.2, p. 974 and Burk Thumoth in Vol. 3.1, p. 60. It is even allowed to embed these books. I hope it works here:
Many thanks to theatre historian Mattie Burkert for her efforts to make this possible:
- Mattie Burkert, Digital Resource Announcement: The London Stage, 1660-1800, in: Theatre History (ATHE Blog), 19.09.2014