Playbills from the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, Scotland

Scope and Content

Playbills, many advertising several productions 1824-1829

Administrative / Biographical History

The  Theatre Royal was opened with its first performance in Shakespeare's Square on Princes' Street, Edinburgh, in December  1767 . For the next ninety years the theatre would be at the centre of the most important developments in Scottish cultural life. However, opposition to the theatre from the Kirk, combined with a government censor meant that there were limitations over what could be staged for its first forty years of existence. With the arrival of  Sir Walter Scott all this changed, since he was a patron of the theatre. The historical novels that he wrote were also very suitable for adaptation to the stage, and he was able to disguise their forthright, unabashed references to the politics of the day under the guise of fiction. In this way Scotland could reflect on current day events through the medium of drama.

During this period the Theatre Royal benefited from having very good managers. It was run by the actors Henry and Sarah Siddons from  1809-1815 , and thereafter, by his wife and her brother William Murray, until his retirement in 1851. The next few years witnessed the decline of the theatre, as the new railway network encouraged actors to travel out of the city. On top of this, interest in writing for the theatre also diminished. Although several new Theatre Royals were to be built in Edinburgh, its golden age ended with the closure of the Princes' Street premises in May  1859 .


The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Purchased, February 1984, with support from Local Museums Purchase Fund

Other Finding Aids

Item level descriptions are available via the department's online manuscripts catalogue available at the  University of Glasgow Library, Department of Special Collections, searching by the call number STA Fb 1-7/16.

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Archivist's Note

Fonds level description compiled by Andrew Thomson, Hub Project Archivist, 15 September 2004.

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Keeper of Special Collections.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 247 procedures

Custodial History



None expected

Related Material

For contact details of all repositories with a GB code, search the indexes of the  National Register of Archives, at the National Archives.

Location of Originals

This material is original


No known publications using this material