Written during the English Civil War and Interregnum when the public theatres were closed and Margaret Cavendish was living away from England in exile, Bell in Campo and The Sociable Companions are scathing satires that speak to the role of women’s agency amidst this cultural tumult. In Bell in Campo, a group of virtuous women follow their husbands to war and, refusing to remain docilely out of harm’s way, form an army of their own. The Sociable Companions details the struggles of four women from impoverished Royalist families trying to survive in a rapacious marriage market at the war’s end.
This Broadview Edition presents these two complementary plays together, along with supplementary materials on Cavendish’s life, the participation of women in the combat of the English Civil War, the conduct of the Royalist military forces, and seventeenth-century social and marriage conventions.
“This useful edition is supported by excerpts from Cavendish’s autobiography and prefaces as well as by new and interesting materials taken from historical sources. Of particular value are the two appendices on warrior women, one of which transcribes portions of the correspondence of Queen Henrietta Maria. The edition will be valuable for beginning students and advanced scholars alike.” — James Fitzmaurice, Northern Arizona University
“This edition forms an important and useful contribution to contemporary Cavendish scholarship. It is the first Cavendish play-text edition to present a 1662 and a 1668 play on similar subjects side by side, thus enabling comparative critical perspectives on Cavendish’s response to the English Civil War, as well as appraisal of her evolving dramatic technique. The edition is generously supplied with secondary materials; the contextual appendices detailing the exploits of contemporary women warriors or viragos, including Henrietta Maria, are of particular interest.” — Gweno Williams, York St. John College of The University of Leeds.