The Rover – Second Edition
  • Publication Date: February 10, 1999
  • ISBN: 9781551112145 / 1551112140
  • 220 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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The Rover – Second Edition

  • Publication Date: February 10, 1999
  • ISBN: 9781551112145 / 1551112140
  • 220 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Increasingly Aphra Behn—the first woman professional writer—is also regarded as one of the most important writers of the 17th century. The Rover, her most famous and most accomplished play, is in many ways firmly in the tradition of Restoration drama; Willmore, the title character, is a rake and a libertine, and the comedy feeds on sexual innuendo, intrigue and wit. But the laughter that the play insights has a biting edge to it and the sexual intrigue an unsettling depth. As Anne Russell points out in her introduction to this edition, there are three options for women in the society represented in The Rover: marriage, the convent, or prostitution. In this marriage economy the witty and pragmatic virgin Hellena learns how to survive, while the prostitute Angellica Bianca can retain her autonomy only so long as she remains free from romantic love. It seems that in this world women can only be free by the anonymity of disguise—yet the mask is also the mark of the prostitute. And, paradoxically, disguise is the device that in many ways drives the plot towards marriage.

Enormously popular through the eighteenth century, The Rover is now once again widely performed. Filled with the play of ideas, it is one of the most amusing, entertaining—and unsettling—of comedies.


“This well-conceived edition of Aphra Behn’s The Rover begins with a lively, thorough and intelligent introduction to the play. The scholarly work is indispensable.” — Heidi Hutner, Hunter College, City University of New York

Note to the Second Edition

Aphra Behn’s Life and Career
Sources of The Rover
The Rover: Critical Issues
Stage History
Selected Bibliography
A Note on the Text

The Rover

The Actors’ Names
Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V

Textual Notes

Appendix A: Behn on her Work

  1. From the “Epistle Dedicatory” to the Second Part of The Rover
  2. From “A Pastoral to Mr. Stafford…”

Appendix B: From Early Accounts of Behn’s Life

  1. From Female Forms of Several Occasions. Written by Ephelia
  2. From Gerard Langbaine, An Account of the English Dramatick Poets
  3. From “The History of the Life and Memoirs of Mrs. Behn”
  4. From The Poetical Register
  5. From A General Dictionary, Historical and Critical

Appendix C: Adaptation

  1. Excerpt from J.P. Kemble’s adaptation of The Rover, Love in Many Masks

Anne Russell is Associate Professor of English at Wilfrid Laurier University and a specialist in 17th-century drama.