The Basset Table
  • Publication Date: July 30, 2009
  • ISBN: 9781551116785 / 1551116782
  • 174 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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The Basset Table

  • Publication Date: July 30, 2009
  • ISBN: 9781551116785 / 1551116782
  • 174 pages; 5½" x 8½"

The Basset Table follows the fortunes of Lady Reveller, who runs a table where her friends play the card game basset, and her struggle to avoid marrying Lord Worthy. Meanwhile, Lady Reveller’s cousin, Valeria, spends her time conducting scientific experiments and dissections, but her father intends to marry her off to the bluff sea-captain Hearty. How can Lady Reveller be persuaded to forego the delights of gambling? And how can Valeria avoid an unwanted marriage? This witty play paints a seductive picture of the thrills of the Restoration gaming table and challenges contemporary stereotypes of the learned lady.

Appendices to this Broadview Edition include materials on female education, gambling, and writing for the stage, as well as eighteenth- and nineteenth-century critical writing on Centlivre and
The Basset Table.


“Jane Milling has provided an exemplary edition of one of the most enjoyable of eighteenth-century comedies. Her very full introduction provides a critically perceptive study of the play and of Centlivre’s theatrical milieu, with detailed documentation of the social and intellectual changes on which the comedy draws: the rise of science, and the debates about gambling and female education. The appendices of primary material relating to these topics are extremely helpful and well chosen. This is expert scholarship, deployed in engaging advocacy for a delightful play, and will be invaluable both for students and professional scholars.” — Derek Hughes, University of Aberdeen

“Susanna Centlivre’s important comedy The Basset Table is finally available in a scholarly, lucid, and user-friendly edition that makes the play accessible as both a literary and a theatrical text. Jane Milling adds substantial and revealing contextualization on Centlivre’s life and career, the original reception of the play, female education, and gambling. The play’s themes of buying and selling, giving and taking, risking and investing have never come into sharper focus.” — Jacqueline Pearson, University of Manchester



Susanna Centlivre: A Brief Chronology

A Note on the Text

The Basset Table

Textual Notes

Appendix A: Female Education

  1. From Mary Astell, A Serious Proposal to the Ladies (1697)
  2. Satire on Mary Astell, The Tatler ( June 1709)
  3. From Daniel Defoe, An Essay upon Projects (1697)
  4. From Bathsua Makin, An Essay to Revive the Ancient Education of Gentlewomen in Religion, Manners, Arts and Tongues (1673)
  5. From Mary Chudleigh, Essay on Several Subjects in Prose and Verse (1710)

Appendix B: Gambling

  1. From Charles Cotton, “Basset,” The Compleat Gamester (1710)
  2. From Joseph Addison, The Guardian (1713)
  3. From Jeremy Collier, An Essay upon Gaming (1713)
  4. From Theophilus Lucas, Memoirs of the Lives, Intrigues, and Comical Adventures of the most Famous Gamesters (1714)

Appendix C: Writing for the Stage

  1. Susanna Centlivre, Dedication to The Platonick Lady (1707)
  2. Susanna Centlivre, Preface to Love’s Contrivance (1703)
  3. From Jeremy Collier, A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage (1698)
  4. From John Dennis, The Usefulness of the Stage (1698)
  5. From Colley Cibber, The Lady’s Last Stake (1707)

Appendix D: Criticism of Centlivre and The Basset Table

  1. From Arthur Bedford, The Evil and Danger of Stage Plays (1706)
  2. From Richard Cumberland, “Critique,” The British Drama (1817)

Works Cited

Jane Milling is Senior Lecturer in Drama at the University of Exeter.