Last year’s best book about British theatre, according to the judges of this year’s Theatre Book Prize, was a fascinating study based on the files from the Lord Chamberlain’s Office now held in the British Library.
At a gathering of people from theatre and the book world on April 22nd, held in the historic rooms of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, distinguished actress Dame Siân Phillips presented the prize to Steve Nicholson for The Censorship of British Drama 1900-1968 (University of Exeter Press), a story conflict and connivance involving Royal officialdom, theatre managers and some of the key dramatists of the twentieth century. Critics have described it as “forensic and fascinating” and called Nicholson “a scholar who writes with lucidity, wit, humane intelligence and grace of mind. There is no jargon in his pages, but much glorious hilarity.”
In remarks by the judges leading up to the presentation Colin Chambers, called it “The final volume of a terrific and important series in which Nicholson delivers his original research into the practice of theatre with characteristic enthusiasm. His detailed account of how theatre and the society it reflects interact is seen through the prism of censorship.”
Author Nicholson, who is Professor in Twentieth Century and Contemporary Theatre at the University of Sheffield, wins after being short-listed for this prize in previous years.