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English Language Theatre

Rare Books has extensive holdings of eighteenth, nineteenth and twenty-century English language theatre. The seventy-seven volumes assembled by Sir John C. Hobhouse (1786-1869), the friend of Byron, contain some 480 play scripts, 1711-1818. The collection was assembled by Adam de Cardonnel-Lawson (d. 1820) antiquary or possibly by his son of the same name (d. 1838) whose name is inscribed on many title pages. Many of the volumes have contemporary clippings inserted. These volumes were acquired in 1921. In addition to the play scripts there are numerous contemporary clippings inserted. The works of many eighteenth-century dramatic authors are also held as individual texts or in collected editions; the Dramatic Works of John O'Keeffe (1798) is one example. There are as well an edition of Bell's British Theatre (1777) and various other collected editions of plays including Dodeley's. The eight volumes of P.A. de la Places' Théâtre anglais (London, 1746-1749) contains translations of Shakespeare, Fletcher, Johnson, Rowe, Otway, Dryden, Congreve, Hughes, Young, Southerne, Addison and Steele. There are manuscript scripts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by a number of generally minor or unidentified dramatists including George Coleman, William Henry Wills and Oswald Hughes. Rare Books has recently acquired a collection of some 2500 Anglo-American plays scripts from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Supplementing these materials is a collection of playbills for London and other English theatres in the early nineteenth century. The Shakespearean theatre is supported by the Sir E.K. Chambers Shakespeare Collection and the related materials described under that entry.

There is some Canadian material related to the drama. Of particular note is the "Montreal Theatre Programme Collection", ca. 1840–ca. 1990. It includes close to 5000 programmes and play bills for Montreal theatres and theatre companies including Her / His Majesty's Theatre (ca. 1890–ca. 1970). Both English and French material is included as are musical and dance performances. The papers of the Montreal producer Rupert Caplan (1895-1974) include printed play scripts with markings. And the papers of Joseph E. McDougall (1894-1991) include scripts for the Canadian Theatre of the Air and for Miss Trent's Children. One of the earliest Canadian items is "Characters of different plays as performed at the Theatre, King Street, St. John, New Brunswick" (1789). This probably belonged to the Loyalist Sewell family.

Finally, related to these holdings are runs of eighteenth and early nineteenth century French drama and the Rosalynde Osborne Stearn Puppet Collection.


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