Reginald St.-Johnston's A History of Dancing (1906) was the first book published in English on its subject in the twentieth century. The author was then only twenty-five and at the beginning of his distinguished career as a British barrister and colonial servant.
St.-Johnston shared the assumption, widely held by other dance writers of his time, that dance was of equal importance in religion, courtship, entertainment, and art, and had read widely in the available literature. His bibliography ranges from Arbeau's Orchésographie to Headlam's Theory of Theatrical Dancing, and although he rarely cites his sources, among the writers he does mention are Menestrier, Weaver, and Blasis.
St.-Johnston's practise of unquestioned borrowings from previous texts would now be considered dubious; but in its time his book, with its coverage of dance ranging from ancient Egypt and Greece to the popular dancers of Victorian theatre, was considered of sufficient importance to become a major (though unacknowledged) source for Havelock Ellis's famous essay "The art of dancing". This new reprint makes a fascinating text widely available for the first time in many years.