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date: 22 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The Stage Licensing Act of 1737 was a watershed in English theatrical history. The law had serious consequences for what could be performed, by whom, and in what venues. Theatre historians have studied the law and its impact in a number of ways, almost always focusing on the impact it had on the possibilities for performance. But given that virtually every play that was performed was also printed, the impact of the law on the printed form of play texts is an important consideration. It is all the more important because although the Licensing Act imposed serious constraints on performance, there was no prior legal restraint on print. How did authors and the authorities manage the differential status of play performance and publication after the Licensing Act?

Keywords: censorship, Licensing Act, print, performance, politics

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