By the 1890s the British theatre had transformed itself into a world where spectacles and public shows were aimed at the widest audience possible. The theatre had become big business. This anthology brings together a variety of plays and prose which sets this phenomenon in perspective and traces the development of Victorian theatricals from private home events in the late-Georgian period to full-scale Gilbert and Sullivan operettas in the 1890s. The section 'Theatrical Behaviour' looks at the world of the audience and includes extracts from Jane Austen's novel Mansfield Park; Thackeray's Vanity Fair; an anonymous playlet called Acting Proverbs; and an extract from Marie Corelli's novel Sorrows of Satan. In 'Fun and Freaks' we explore the world of popular, sensationalist entertainment through the eyes of Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Dion Boucicault and others. In the final section, 'Society', we have the scripts for four principal melodramas and serious plays of the age: The Factory Lad by John Walker; Society by T.W. Robertson; The Mikado by W.S. Gilbert and The Second Mrs Tanqueray by Arthur Wing Pinero.