British theatre has a greater tradition than any other, having started all the way back in 1311 and still going strong today. But that is too much for one book to cover, so this volume deals with early theatre and has a cut-off date in 1899. Still, this is almost six centuries, centuries during which British theatre not only developed but produced some of the greatest playwrights of all time and anywhere, including obviously Shakespeare but also Marlowe and Shaw. And they wrote some of the finest plays ever, which are known around the world. So there is plenty for this book to cover, just with the playwrights, plays and actors, but it also has information on stagecraft and theatres, as well as the historical and political background.
This book has over 1,183 entries in the dictionary section, these being mainly on playwrights and plays, but others as well including managers and critics, and also on specific theatres, legislative acts and some technical jargon. Then there are entries on the different genres, from comedy to tragedy and everything in between. Inevitably, the chronology is quite long as it has a long period to cover and the introduction provides the necessary overview. The Historical Dictionary of Early British Theatre concludes with a pretty massive bibliography. That will be of use to particularly assiduous researchers, but this book itself is a good place to start any research since it covers periods that are far less well-known and documented, and ordinary theatre-goers will also find useful information.