This book was commissioned by The Theatres Trust, the body charged by Acts of Parliament with 'the better protection of theatres'. After decades of destruction, theatres are now recognised as significant records of the societies that produced them and valuable cultural resources for the prsent day. This book outlines the history of theatres and music halls from the late sixteenth century to the present time, noting changing fashions in entertainment and evolving official attitudes to safety that have, at various times, influenced the architectural character of the buildings. Particular attention is given to the thirty-five years before the First World War, when music hall and variety entertainment developed rapidly, accompanied by a masive surge in theatre building. The account is enlivened with illustrations of theatres, their architects and their audiences.