Established to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Society for Theatre Research in 1998, the aim of the Book Prize is to encourage the writing and publication of books on British-related theatre history and practice, both those which present the theatre of the past and those which record contemporary theatre for the future.  It was first awarded for books published in 1997.

The award 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 previous year.  All new works of original research first published in English are eligible except for play texts and studies of drama as literature.

The three judges, who are different each year, are drawn from the ranks of theatre practitioners, theatre critics, senior academics concerned with theatre, and theatre archivists, with a member of the committee of the Society for Theatre Research as chair.

Entry for books with 2024 copyright will open later in the year. Publishers requiring more information should contact

Invitation to the Prizegiving

The winner will be announced and presentations made on the morning of June 11th at a reception at Sadller’s Wells Theatre. All STR members and friends are warmly invited!

The Society for Theatre Research cordially invite you
to a reception for the announcement of the winner of the Theatre Book Prize

and a presentation by the judges (see below for more on the judges)

Dr Kate Newey, critic Clive Davis and theatre PR Kevin Wilson

on Tuesday 11th June 2024

in the Dorfman Room
at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN

Doors open 10.30 am.


Shortlist for 2024

A Sense of Theatre by Richard Pilbrow (Unicorn)

The story of the creation of the National Theatre, told by someone who, uniquely, was there from the start, participated in its realisation and has been creatively engaged in the Theatre over the subsequent five decades. A Sense of Theatre bridges an insightful account of the evolution of an architectural masterpiece with a deep exploration of how the building has shaped later theatre making.


Different Aspects by Michael Ball (Blink Publishing)

In 1989, a young Michael Ball landed the lead role in the musical Aspects of Love. It was a moment that changed his life forever.  Over three decades later, Michael returned to a new production of the same show. In Different Aspects, Michael takes us backstage inside the making of a West End hit, while also diving back into his memories to  explore a career that has made him a household name.


Exploring Shakespeare by Bill Alexander (Nick Hern Books)

Theatre director Bill Alexander takes us inside the rehearsal room to reveal – in unprecedented detail – exactly what happens there. He examines the key relationship between the actors and the director, how they work together to bring Shakespeare’s vision to life, and how choices are made that will shape every aspect of the play in production. There are detailed studies of eight plays spanning the full length and breadth of the Shakespearean canon.


Out for Blood by Chris Adams (Methuen Drama)

How did a show that was supposed to fill the RSC’s coffers become the by-word for musical theatre flops? Patching together memories, archive material and contemporary reports, Out For Blood dives into the origins and development of this infamous show and examines how a promising entertainment product can swiftly gain a notorious reputation, what makes or breaks a Broadway show, and how even the most unlikely of musicals can find its place in the hearts of fans around the world.


Searching for Juliet by Sophie Duncan (Sceptre)

Searching for Juliet takes us from the Renaissance origin stories behind Shakespeare’s child bride to enslaved people in the Caribbean, Italian fascists in Verona, and real-life lovers in Afghanistan. From the Victorian stage to 1960s cinema, Baz Luhrmann, and beyond. Drawing on rich cultural and historical sources and new research, Sophie Duncan shows  why Juliet is for now, for ever, for everyone.


Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent by Judi Dench (Michael Joseph)

Judi Dench opens up about every Shakespearean role she has played throughout her seven-decade career, from Lady Macbeth and Titania to Ophelia and Cleopatra. She reveals her behind the scenes secrets; inviting us to share in her triumphs, disasters, and backstage shenanigans, all brightened by her mischievous sense of humour and striking honesty.

2024 Judges (for books published 2023)

Dr. Kate Dorney

Dr Kate Dorney is Senior Lecturer in Theatre and Performance at the University of Manchester and was previously Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Performance at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Her research and teaching interests range from Shakespeare to rock and pop costumes by way of theatre historiography, biography and textual analysis. Her publications include Played in Britain: Modern Theatre in 100 Plays (with F. Gray), The Changing Language of Modern English Theatre 1945-2009 and (with M. Gale) Stage Women 1900-50 and Vivien Leigh: Actress and Icon. She is currently working on a book about Black British playwright Winsome Pinnock and (with Cara Berger) a co-edited collection on Curating Performance for Cambridge University Press.

Clive Davis

Clive Davis has been chief theatre critic of The Times since 2020. He has more than forty years of experience in journalism. He started his career as a reporter and editor at West Indian World newspaper in Tottenham before joining the BBC as a news trainee. He began writing for The Times in 1987. When he is not loitering at premieres he writes about the less popular end of popular music, and contributes book reviews on history, politics and race.

Kevin Wilson

Theatre PR Kevin Wilson launched his public relations company, KWPR, in 1995 after 18 years as a show-business journalist. He has since become a sought after prize-winning theatre press rep across the West End, UK tours and fringe theatre, handling all kinds of production from the biggest West End musicals, dramas and dance productions to one-man shows.

Long list 2024 in alphabetical order

Submissions are the choice of their publishers. They are not limited in number but must meet the criteria outlined above.

Click on a book cover image below for a direct link to the publisher’s own information about that title.

Different Aspects by Michael Ball (Blink Publishing)

Previous winners (by year of publication)

2022- An Actor’s Life in 12 Productions by Oliver Ford Davies (Book Guild)

2021 – Stirring Up Sheffield by Colin and Tedd George (Wordville)

2020 – Black British Women’s Theatre by Nicola Abram (Palgrave Macmillan)

2019 – Dark Star: A Biography of Vivien Leigh by Alan Strachan (I B Tauris)

2018 – Year of the Mad King: The King Lear Diaries by Antony Sher (Nick Hern Books)

2017 – Balancing Acts by Nicholas Hytner (Jonathan Cape)

2016 – Stage Managing Chaos by Jackie Harvey with Tim Kelleher (McFarland)

2015 – The Censorship of British Drama 1900-1968 by Steve Nicholson (University of Exeter Press)

2014 – Oliver! by Marc Napolitano (Oxford University Press)

2013 – The National Theatre Story by Daniel Rosenthal (Oberon)

2012 – Mr Foote’s Other Leg by Ian Kelly (Picador)

2011 – Covering McKellen by David Weston (Rickshaw Publishing)

2010 – The Reluctant Escapologist by Mike Bradwell (Nick Hern Books)

2009 – Different Drummer: the Life of Kenneth Macmillan by Jann Parry (Faber & Faber)

2008 – Theatre and Globalisation: Irish Drama in the Celtic Tiger Era by Patrick Lonergan (Palgrave Macmillan)

2007 – State of the Nation by Michael Billington (Faber & Faber)

2006 – John Osborne: A Patriot for Us by John Heilpern (Chatto & Windus)

2005 – 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare by James Shapiro (Faber & Faber)

2004 – Margot Fonteyn by Meredith Daneman (Penguin/Viking)

2003 – National Service by Richard Eyre (Bloomsbury)

2002 – A History of Irish Theatre 1601-2000 by Christopher Morash (Cambridge University Press)

2001 – Reflecting the Audience: London Theatregoing, 1840-1880 by Jim Davis & Victor Emeljanow
– (Iowa University Press/University of Hertfordshire Press)

2000 – Politics, Prudery and Perversions…. Censoring the English Stage 1901-1968 by Nicholas de Jongh (Methuen)

1999 – Garrick by Ian McIntyre (Allen Lane)

1998 – Threads of Time by Peter Brook (Methuen)

1997 – Peggy: the Life of Margaret Ramsay, Play Agent by Colin Chambers (Nick Hern)

Book Prize Archive

The Book Prize has been awarded each year since 1997.

Click on the links for more information.