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The Witlings and The Woman-Hater 

The Witlings and The Woman-Hater

Written by: Frances Burney
Edited by: Peter Sabor & Geoffrey Sill

Series: Broadview Editions

Publication Date: January 01, 2002
329pp • Paperback
ISBN: 9781551113784 / 1551113783

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This Broadview edition pairs two of Frances Burney's linked comedies. They both present the character of Lady Smatter, a "femme savante" whose lineage may be traced back to Molière; they both centre on the misfortunes of the "elle" figure, the dispossessed heiress and wife who appears frequently in Burney's fiction; and they both criticize a culture of misogyny that breeds suspicion and resentment. The Witlings, lighter and more comic, derives from late seventeenth-century conventions; The Woman-Hater, more melodramatic, both expresses and warns against the excessive sensibility of romanticism. Together, these two plays constitute a miniature history of English drama from the Restoration to the French Revolution and beyond. 

This edition contains a valuable selection of appendices, including: Burney’s "Epilogue to Gerilda"; letters and diary entries; contemporary writings on comedy; and Burney’s cast-list for The Woman-Hater


"It is no longer a secret for specialists only that Frances Burney wrote some of the finest stage comedies of the eighteenth century. Thanks to Peter Sabor and Geoffrey Sill, this splendid edition makes two of her best plays available to readers, directors, actors, and students alike." - Brian Corman, University of Toronto

"Burney’s comedies, like her novels, have lively and funny moments, but are likely to appeal to modern readers as much for their uncomfortably vivid depictions of embarrassment, vulnerability and marginalisation on the basis of gender, class, status and money. Peter Sabor and Geoffrey Sill’s edition effectively contextualises The Witlings and The Woman-Hater within eighteenth-century theatrical culture and Burney’s own preoccupations, literary and personal. This is an attractive, affordable, and excellently annotated edition." - Jacqueline Pearson, The University of Manchester

Peter Sabor is a professor at McGill University.

Geoffrey Sill is a professor at Rutgers University.

Academics please note that this is a title classified as having a restricted allocation of complimentary copies. While the availability of bound complimentary copies is restricted to desk copies only, electronic complimentary copies are readily available for those professors wishing to consider this title for possible course adoption. Should you choose to adopt the book after viewing an electronic copy we will be happy to provide a bound desk copy.

Table of Contents: [Back to Top]


Short Titles


Frances Burney: A Brief Chronology

A Note on the Text

The Witlings (1778-80)

The Woman-Hater (1800-02)

Appendix A: Burney’s Earliest Theatrical Writing: Epilogue to Gerilda

Appendix B: Contemporary Letters and Diary Entries on The Witlings

Appendix C: Burney and Molière

Appendix D: Contemporary Critical Essays on "Laughing" and Sentimental Comedy

Appendix E: Literary Allusions in The Witlings and The Woman-Hater

Appendix F: Burney’s Cast-List for The Woman-Hater

Appendix G: Similarities Between The Witlings, The Woman-Hater, and Burney’s Novels

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Academics teaching relevant courses may request examination copies of titles to consider for text adoption. We ask that you limit your examination copy requests to three or fewer at a time; if you are not confident that you will adopt the book, please help us keep costs down by ordering it instead. If in the future you do decide to assign as a course text a book you have previously ordered personally, Broadview Press will be happy to refund your money.

The Witlings and The Woman-Hater

2002 • 329pp • Paperback • 9781551113784 / 1551113783

Instructors – Planning your syllabi? Consider this book for course use.

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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.