Nineteenth-Century English and American Plays
A century of British and American theater

Quick Facts

  • Contains virtually every dramatic work of the 19th century British and American stages 
  • Enables researchers to study the works of dramatists both famous and obscure
  • Includes more than a dozen genres, including amateur plays, parlor entertainments, comic operas, pantomimes and others


To enable scholars and researchers to study the works of dramatists both famous and obscure, to follow the development of the dramatic and theatrical forms and to examine theater as a mirror of society, Readex has produced Nineteenth-Century English and American Plays. This microfiche collection contains virtually all of the dramatic output of the British and American stages in the 19th century, with works filmed from repositories in Europe and the United States.
The dramatic arts came to full bloom in the 19th century, becoming a popular form of entertainment for all classes. Genres included are serious plays, tragedies, historical dramas, parlor entertainments, comedies, comic operas, pantomimes, extravaganzas, satires, ballets, poetic dramas, amateur plays, black minstrel plays, adaptations of classical drama, melodrama and opera libretti.
At least three significant versions of one play are included if they can be located: the uncensored manuscript, an acting edition and the most definitive published edition of each play are included. Usually, several acting editions in the form of promptbooks or prompters copies from famous acting companies are included, as there can be striking variations between different performances of plays.
Sources of materials filmed include the Huntington Library, New York Public Library, Indiana University, Brown University, Yale University and Amherst College. The Lord Chamberlain's Collection, representing the official Censor of the British Crown, filmed at the British Library, represents a large number of plays restricted from public performance and heretofore unavailable.
Editors: Joseph Donohue, University of Massachusetts. Original editors were George Freedley, Curator of the Theatre Collection of the New York Public Library and Allardyce Nicoll, former director of the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-on Avon.
Product: A complete collection consisting of 23,335 titles on 32,239 silver halide microfiche. The plays are classified as English (18,941) and American (4,394). Please note that some plays crossed the Atlantic before formal publication or were simultaneously published in England and America, thus this classification is not absolute.
Cataloging: Cataloged on OCLC by the Indiana University until 1984.
There are two printed guides: “English Drama of the Nineteenth Century, An Index and Finding Guide,” Readex, 1984 by Ellis and “Donahue, and Nineteenth Century American Drama, A Guide,” Scarecrow Press, 1977.
For more information, contact a Readex representative by calling 800.762.8182 or by using our easy contact form.

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