||Founded by Samuel French (1821-1898) in New York City in 1846, Samuel French, Inc.
the largest and oldest publisher and supplier of plays for amateur and stock theatre
in the world. Moreover, the company also serves as a licensing agent for performance
rights and runs a theatrical bookshop.
||Samuel French started his business reprinting and selling inexpensive editions of
popular novels. He began publishing plays in 1854, including his famous French's American Drama, which later he divided and
renamed French's Standard Drama and French's Minor Drama. These acting editions included
detailed stage directions and information on scenery, props, and other matters.
1856, he was advertising that he had 100,000 plays available, including the first
editions of Uncle Tom by George L. Aiken (1858) and
Dion Boucicault's The Poor of New York (1857).
||In 1859, French and Thomas Hailes Lacy, the leading British publisher of plays and
publisher of Lacy's Acting Edition of Plays, became
partners acting as representatives of each other on both sides of the ocean. In
1872, Samuel French left his son Thomas Henry French in charge of his business
moved to London, strengthening his association with Lacy. After Lacy retired,
elder French bought his company for 5,000 pounds, becoming the most important
theatrical publisher in Great Britain. Lacy had started his business in 1830,
is the year that Samuel French Inc. now gives as its foundation date. In London,
French started collecting royalties from professional and amateur performers of
company's plays, a practice that continues today.
||Under the direction of Cyril Hogg, Samuel French Inc. expanded its business to
related fields of the play publishing industry. They bought the costumers B. J.
Simmons and Charles H. Fox; hat and cap makers A. and L. Corne; the armorer and
jeweler Robert White; Fashion Hire, a company that supplied modern day costumes;
and Stage Scenery, a firm that supplied stage settings on a rental basis. The
company later sold all of these ancillary agencies to concentrate on its original
business, and as of 2006 it continues as the leading publisher of plays and licensor
of performance rights in the world, with offices in major English-speaking cities.