The Society for Theatre Research

STR Theatre Book Prize

We have a winner! At midday today (22 May) our President Timothy West announced the winner of the STR Theatre Book Prize to a gathering of academics, actors, and other theatre practitioners, writers, publishers and interested theatre enthusiasts. They were gathered in the Val Parnell rooms at the London Palladium, kindly made available by Really Useful Theatres.

The title which the judges had apparently unanimously selected was Oliver! A Dickensian Musical by Marc Napolitano (published by Oxford University Press). Professor Napolitano could not personally be present to receive the award. He is on the staff at West Point, the famous US Military Academy - it is surprising in what varied places you can find theatre buffs - but an editor for the British offices of the press was able to accept it on his behalf.

Before the winner was announced the judges spoke about the books entered for 2014 and Matt Wolf said that this title

is one of the most enlightening books on musical theatre process - or, for that matter, theatrical process of any kind - that I have yet come across. Illuminating about both the art and the commerce of that endeavour that we call show business, the book combines context, analysis, and theatrical smarts into an immensely readable whole. Academicians will appreciate its investigation into the art of adaptation while musical devotees will be delighted to find in one volume more than they could ever have hoped to learn about the making of arguably the first show to put Britain on the global musical map - not to mention the lasting legacy of Oliver! ever since.

In the past there has been carping from some quarters that academic titles never win the Theatre Book Prize - not true you have only to look at the list of past winners - but it was unusual to have a short list that came only from academic presses, and just two leading ones head to head.

This isn't a prize for the most learned tome but for the best book and past academic judges have been the first to reject those titles that fail to connect with the reader. Unrevised theses and conference papers that are repetitious and challenge comprehension inevitably lose out. This year's short list ­ and especially Oliver! show that you can be authoritative and rigorous and write well.

While some of you will have received post delivered invitations (kindly supplied by Dewynters) we had some serious Internet problems and many of those contacted by e-mail received them very late or perhaps not at all. If you were one of them, our apologies. But perhaps your e-mail has changed. When that happens please remember to inform both the Membership Secretary and

Some familiar faces were missing from the event but there was still a good turn out. Academics from as far away as Dublin and Lancaster made the journey to London, there were theatre folk from West End casts to a young dramatist whose play opened on the fringe the night before, a couple of pensionable stage managers met up who had been with the National at the Old Vic, an actor and an actress who had both appeared with Donald Wolfit and people new to the profession, writers and publishers, some well known directors, a famous photographer - all theatre enthusiasts that were a reminder of what a wide range of people are drawn into the Society's activities.

People sometimes get the idea that STR is just about old playbills and Victorian actors. Like the huge range of books that get entered for this prize the remit embraces everything to do with British theatre, past, present and even future.

About the Theatre Book Prize

This prize was established to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Society for Theatre Research which was founded in 1948. It was first awarded for books published in 1997. Its aim is to encourage the writing and publication of books on theatre history and practice, both those which present the theatre of the past and those which record contemporary theatre for the future. It is presented annually for a book on British or British related theatre which an independent panel of judges considers to be the best published during the year.

All new works of original research first published in English are eligible except for play texts and studies of drama as literature. There are three judges, who are different each year. They are drawn from the ranks of people working in theatre ­ performers, directors and others, theatre critics, senior academics concerned with theatre and theatre archivists, with a chairperson who is a member of the committee of the Society for Theatre Research.

Theatre Book Prize - Shortlist for books published in 2014

The Society for Theatre Research is pleased to announce the short list for the Theatre Book Prize for books published in 2014. It is:

The Oxford Handbook of Georgian Theatre
edited by Julian Swindells & David Frances Taylor
(Oxford University Press)

Home on the Stage
by Nicholas Grene
(Cambridge University Press)

Moving Shakespeare Indoors
edited by Andrew Gurr & Farah Karim-Cooper
(Cambridge University Press)

by Marc Napolitano
(Oxford University Press)

Women and Shakespeare in the Eighteenth Century
by Fiona Ritchie
(Cambridge University Press)

This Year's Judges

The judges for books published in 2014 were:
Christopher Morahan CBE, a theatre, film and television director with an impressive record of work at the National Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre and in the West End and director of iconic television drama such as The Jewel in the Crown and A Dance to the Music of Time.

Matt Wolf,  the London theatre critic of The International New York Times (formerly The International Herald Tribune), theatre editor at the and London correspondent of


Vivien Gardner, Emerita Professor of Theatre Studies at the University of Manchester.

Enquiries from publishers and others should be addressed to which is also the general media contact.

Books entered for the 2014 Prize

A list of eligible entries received can be found here, from which links will take you to each book's entry in its publisher's catalogue.

For reports of previous year's presentations and audio recordings see the menu right

Previous winners

2013The National Theatre Story by Daniel Rosenthal (Oberon)
2012Mr Foote's Other Leg by Ian Kelly (Picador)
2011Covering McKellen by David Weston (Rickshaw Publishing)
2010The Reluctant Escapologist by Mike Bradwell (Nick Hern Books)
2009Different Drummer: the Life of Kenneth Macmillan by Jann Parry (Faber & Faber)
2008Theatre and Globalisation: Irish Drama in the Celtic Tiger Era by Patrick Lonergan (Palgrave Macmillan)
2007State of the Nation by Michael Billington (Faber & Faber)
2006John Osborne: A Patriot for Us by John Heilpern (Chatto & Windus)
20051599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare by James Shapiro  (Faber & Faber)
2004Margot Fonteyn by Meredith Daneman (Penguin/Viking)
2003National Service by Richard Eyre (Bloomsbury)
2002A History of Irish Theatre 1601-2000 by Christopher Morash (Cambridge University Press)
2001Reflecting the Audience: London Theatregoing, 1840-1880 by Jim Davis & Victor Emeljanow (Iowa University Press/University of Hertfordshire Press)
2000Politics, Prudery and Perversion.... Censorship 1906-68 by Nicholas de Jongh (Methuen)
1999Garrick by Ian McIntyre (Allen Lane)
1998Threads of Time by Peter Brook (Methuen)
1997The Life of Margaret Ramsay, Play Agent by Colin Chambers  (Nick Hern)

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