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Popular Plays by Women in the Restoration and Eighteenth Century 

Popular Plays by Women in the Restoration and Eighteenth Century

Edited by: Tanya Caldwell

Publication Date: June 30, 2011
300pp • Paperback / PDF / ePub
ISBN: 9781551119168 / 1551119161

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This anthology offers a selection of popular dramatic works by female playwrights from Aphra Behn in the 1670s through Hannah Cowley in the later eighteenth century. These plays were successful as plays of their time, not just as plays by women, together providing evidence that women dramatists often managed better than their male counterparts to please diverse audiences, who were notoriously fickle as well as predisposed to oppose them. Accessible to both graduates and undergraduates, Popular Plays by Women shows how these playwrights captured audiences through wit, social awareness, and dramatic dexterity.

As well as including the prologues and epilogues of the four plays presented, this anthology provides additional materials in which female playwrights discuss the prejudices and special difficulties they face. 


"Showcasing the diverse talents of Restoration and eighteenth-century women playwrights, Popular Plays by Women makes available to modern readers works that held the stage for decades. The collection is unique in including afterpieces and satirical farces as well as comedies, works rarely read today but essential elements in theater as experienced during this time. Popular Plays by Women helps us see these writers as successful professionals in the world of the theater. Racy, funny, and sometimes downright bizarre, these plays are a delight to read and represent an exciting new resource for teachers of eighteenth-century drama and women's literature." - Jean I. Marsden, University of Connecticut

"Many classes in drama, gender studies, and seventeenth-and eighteenth-century literature need intelligently-selected modern collections such as this edition of plays and dramatic commentary by women. Tanya Caldwell is an excellent guide to these works: her introduction and editorial apparatus locate the plays precisely in their theatrical contexts and connect the women's struggles as writers and as subjects in their times. Her focus on popular plays by women reminds us not only that women were important innovators as performers but also that—against all odds—they helped influence generic change." - Cheryl Wanko, West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Tanya M. Caldwell is Associate Professor of English at Georgia State University.

Table of Contents: [Back to Top]



Aphra Behn, The Emperor of the Moon (1687)             

Susanna Centlivre, The Gamester (1705)   

Catherine Clive, The Rehearsal; or, Bayes in Petticoats (1753) by Noel Chevalier

Hannah Cowley, The Runaway (1776)                          

A Miscellany of Criticism by Women Dramatists

  1. Aphra Behn, Epistle to the Reader, The Dutch Lover: A Comedy (1673)
  2. Aphra Behn, Prologue, The Forced Marriage; Or, The Jealous Bridegroom (1670)
  3. Aphra Behn, Preface, The Luckey Chance; Or, An Alderman's Bargain (1686)
  4. Aphra Behn, "To the Reader," Sir Patient Fancy (1678)
  5. Aphra Behn, Epilogue, Sir Patient Fancy (1678)
  6. Delariviere Manley, Preface, The Lost Lover; Or, The Jealous Husband: A Comedy (1696)
  7. Delariviere Manley, "To the Author of Agnes de Castro" (1696)
  8. Catharine Trotter, Prologue, Agnes de Castro: A Tragedy (1696)
  9. Susanna Centlivre, Dedication, The Platonick Lady: A Comedy (1707)
  10. Mary Leapor, "Upon Her Play being returned to her, stained with Claret" (1751)

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Popular Plays by Women in the Restoration and Eighteenth Century

2011 • 300pp • Paperback • 9781551119168 / 1551119161

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Broadview Press acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund, and also acknowledges the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation. Freehand Books, an imprint of Broadview, acknowledges the support of the Canadian Council of the Arts.