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Jacob Tonson

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In 1660, Charles II issued exclusive warrants, soon followed by patents, to Thomas Killigrew and William Davenant, authorising them to open theatres in London. In 1704 Queen Anne issued a license to John Vanbrugh to open another theatre in the Haymarket, called the Queen's (later King's) Theatre. This specialised in opera. In 1720 a new theatre opened in the Haymarket called the Little Theatre in the Haymarket, and in 1729 a new theatre opened in Goodman's Fields, Whitechapel. These two theatres were illegal, operating with neither licence nor patent, but they were tolerated by the authorities as long as they caused no trouble. In 1736, Henry Fielding took over the management of the Little Theatre in the Haymarket. In 1737 he staged The Historical Register for the Year 1736 which satirised Sir Robert Walpole's government. It provoked the Stage Licensing Act 1737 which closed down all theatres operating without a license or patent and introduced censorship of plays by the Lord Chamberlain, which lasted until 1968.

The sequence of events is set out here: