Heading

The Toy Shop - a regency play

Monday 28th September, 7.30pm – 9pm, The Ballroon, The Bull's Head Hotel, Royal Parade.

The function room at The Bull's Head Hotel was full for this first acted reading for 275 years. Funny and profound, and a most enjoyable event.

Click here for photographs taken of the reading.

DodsleyA rehearsed reading of a regency satirical play written c1735 by Robert Dodsley will be presented by local amateur actors at the Bull Inn.

Not so much a toy shop, more a curiosity shop.
What price a special looking glass in which “some fine ladies may see more beauty than modesty, more airs than graces and more wit than good nature”?
Or a little box in which “a courtier may deposit his sincerity, a lawyer may screw up his honesty”?

Written 275 years ago by a man with Chislehurst connections (pictured right), the satire rings just as true today.

Robert Dodsley (1703-1764)

Born near Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, the son of a school master. He ran a publishing and bookselling business with his brother James. Their shop was at Tully's Head in Pall Mall. Together they published works by Frances Sheridan, Oliver Goldsmith, Samuel Johnson and James Boswelf. Also publishers of Laurence Sternes The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759).

Robert Dodsley was a very active author and playwright. His play The Toyshop: A Dramatic Satire ran at Covent Garden in 1735. In 1758 we wrote the tragedy Cleone. An active magazine publisher he co-founded, with Edmund Burke, The Annual Register (1758), a yearly chronicle of British and world history which is still being published. He also published the literary magazine The Museum (with poet and physician Mark Akenside (1721-1770) at its first editor) , and others. Dodsley is buried at Durham, where he died on a visit to a friend.

James Boswell met Dodsley (a good, jolly, decent, conversable man ) at Thomas Davies home (or bookstore) on Christmas day, 1762. The Dodleys had published Boswells poem The Cub at Newmarket earlier the same year.