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British Drama

We have extensive collections of plays from many parts of the world. We should receive one copy of every book and periodical published in the United Kingdom and, via different legislation, one copy of every book published in the Republic of Ireland. In addition, the deposit of the plays and correspondence of the one-time national censor, The Lord Chamberlain, and the successor collection, make the Manuscripts Collections of particular interest.

Overview | Finding plays in the British Library | Other British Library drama resources | Other libraries with drama collections

These published and manuscript plays, with a selection of theatre programmes, playwrights' correspondence and sound recordings mean that the Library's British drama collections are perhaps the greatest of their kind. The literary criticism that supports the interpretation of drama is also well represented in the Library.

Finding plays in the British Library

The Library's published plays and supporting materials can be located on the Library's catalogues, listed below, and consulted in the Library's Reading Rooms. Please note that some theatre programmes are held in British Library Newspapers, others at the British Library at St Pancras.

TypeLocationCatalogue
Published plays, literary criticism,
periodicals, programmes
St PancrasExplore the British Library
Newspapers, programmesColindaleNewspapers Web Catalogue
Playwrights' & publishers' manuscripts, including correspondenceSt PancrasManuscripts Online Catalogue
Sound recordingsSt PancrasBritish Library Sound Archive

Other British Library drama resources

  • English Literature electronic databases
    Information on English literature electronic resources, including full-text drama databases, available in the Humanities Reading Room.
  • Literary and author societies
  • Literature live
  • Featured Authors
    Information on the Library's special collections of printed books associated with modern authors, with finding lists and websites for a small selection of featured authors.
  • Theatre reference sources
    Information on theatre reference works held in the Humanities Reading Room.
  • Performing Arts Websites: Theatre
    Links to archives and other web resources concerned with theatre.

Other libraries with drama collections

Many institutions have special book and manuscript collections associated with playwrights of the British Isles, including:

Many manuscript collections in Britain can be located using the UK National Register of Archives.