Great War Theatre

A number of scripts are available, either as transcripts or digitised copies, on the website. If a copy of a public domain play is already available online, we have linked to this. Under advanced search you can choose only to see results for plays with scripts available.

We are constantly working to increase the number of digitised or transcribed scripts available in the database. This is made possible by the hard work of a core group of volunteers who are typing out copies of scripts from manuscripts in the British Library. It is also made possible by the kind permission of the British Library to reproduce digitised copies of scripts on the website, and through funding provided by the School of Arts, University of Kent.Unfortunately, during 2020 the work of transcribing plays has been slowed down due to Covid-19.

Why aren’t scripts available for all plays?

The majority of plays produced during the First World War were never published. This means that we have to digitise or transcribe the script to make it available. In deciding which plays to transcribe a number of factors come into play. This includes length of play, likely academic and public interest in the play, and whether we have permission to reproduce it.

Where a script is not available in the database this may be because:

  • The play is still in copyright and we do not have permission to copy it,
  • We are in the process of identifying the rights status of the play to find out if we can copy it, or
  • We have not yet been able to transcribe or digitise the play because of time and/or cost.

Where can I read a script in person?

If a copy of the script is not available in the database, you can still read the original script, for free, at the British Library, London.  To do this you will need to follow the steps below. Please check the British Library website for current restrictions and requirements.

  1. Register as a Reader, get your reader’s card and register your online account at the British Library.
  2. Order the play to be delivered on a date of your choice. Please note that the plays are not available for ordering via the integrated catalogue. Instead you have to order via the Western Manuscripts Collection. To do this, click here and then log in with your online account.  You should then see the page shown in the image opposite:
  3. At the bottom of this page, insert the relevant Reference for your play into the box. In the database you will find the reference a play on the page for that play. It will be in the format: LCP1914/28. To find out more about what the reference means read Understanding the Database.
  4. You can now select the date you want to read the manuscript.
  5. If you have any queries about ordering or reading the plays you can contact us for advice or support.

How else can I get copies of the scripts?

You can order copies of any of the scripts in the database, by contacting the British Library imaging team. They can provide a digital or hard-copy of the script for a charge. You can find out more here. You can find the form for ordering a copy of a script from the British Library here. All the information you need to order a script is available on the script page in the Great War Theatre database. However, if you have any questions or are unclear on how to order, just get in touch with us.