In the early years of the eighteenth century, there was a proliferation of what we would call ‘fringe theatres’ but there were only three playhouses in Georgian London patented to present plays on a professional basis. Covent Garden and the Drury Lane had received their patents when Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660 and the Theatrical Licensing Act, introduced by Walpole in 1737 to prevent political satire, which was at the time largely aimed at himself, firmly confined play-acting to these two great theatres. The third theatre, the Haymarket, only enjoyed its full patent from 1766–77, and thereafter presented summer seasons.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.