Edited Collection: English Theatrical Anecdotes, 1660-1800

deadline for submissions: 
August 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Heather Ladd / University of Lethbridge
contact email: 

CFP: English Theatrical Anecdotes, 1660-1800

In the emergent celebrity culture of the Restoration and eighteenth century, printed anecdotes about theatre people (particularly actors, playwrights, and managers) circulated offstage in the biographies, autobiographies, and increasingly, ambitious histories of the English stage. Often at best unverifiable, these performance “microhistories” can be considered their own theatrically-inflected literary genre. As either works of fiction or fact, theatrical anecdotes are worthy of greater scholarly attention. To that end, we are inviting proposals for a collection of critical essays that will illuminate the various cultural uses and abuses of theatrical anecdotes within and beyond the long eighteenth century. The collection will fill a significant gap in eighteenth-century studies, as to date there has been no other book on theatrical anecdotes in this significant period in the history of the stage. Contributors may examine theatrical anecdotes as they are used in the construction of stage fame in England, but we welcome a variety of ways of positioning theatrical anecdotes within Restoration and eighteenth-century culture.


Topics may include (but are not limited to):


● Anecdotes about specific entertainers or theatrical events.   

● Theatrical anecdotes and the rise of the professional actor.

● Criminal performers: violence, fraud, and the theatrical anecdote.

● Anecdotes and thespian friendships/rivalries.

● The role of anecdotes in theatrical biographies and histories of the English stage.

● Fame/infamy: the construction of celebrity vis-à-vis anecdote.

● Bodies in print: theatrical anecdotes about illness, pregnancy, death, etc.

● Theatrical anecdotes and related comic forms (jest books, collections of bon mots, table-talk, etc.)

● Obscene anecdotes and the sexualization of the actress.

● Politics, patronage, and the theatrical anecdote.

● Queer anecdotes: transgression, gender/sexuality, and the theatrical anecdote.

● Theatrical anecdotes and gossip. 

● Restoration and eighteenth-century theatrical anecdotes in nineteenth-century print media.

● The problematic place of theatrical anecdotes in literary scholarship.


Please submit an abstract of up to 250 words and a brief biography of no more than 50 words to Dr. Heather Ladd (University of Lethbridge) at heather.ladd@uleth.ca and Dr. Leslie Ritchie (Queen’s University) at leslie.ritchie@queensu.ca by 15 August, 2018.