In her final play, Aphra Behn looks across the Atlantic and reimagines Bacon’s Rebellion, the notorious revolt whose participants took up arms against the government of colonial Virginia with the aim of driving the Indigenous population from the region. Heavily fictionalized and featuring a memorable cast of both heroic and comic characters, Behn’s long-neglected tragicomedy is an important and entertaining contribution to the catalogue of transatlantic and Restoration literature. This edition supplements the play with an informative introduction and a robust selection of historical documents that situate it in the context of the historical rebellion and of late-seventeenth-century discourses around empire and colonization.
“Hurrah for a new edition of Aphra Behn’s The Widow Ranter!—an eminently teachable text. This concise Broadview edition, with a pithy and informative introductory essay by Adrienne Eastwood, is ideal for classroom use. The play—still entertaining after three centuries—is printed in an attractive font with large margins, conducive to reading out loud. The edition includes six historical documents on Bacon’s Rebellion, allowing for good discussion of Behn’s representation of colonial Virginia versus the reality on the ground. Together, these texts provide rich material for discussion of colonialism, empire, race, and gender in Restoration England and its American colonies.” — Jenny Hale Pulsipher, Brigham Young University
“A separate scholarly edition of this fascinating and unique play is long overdue. Of high quality, constantly surprising in its juxtaposition of farce and tragedy, The Widow Ranter is also an important document in the history of racial and colonial attitudes, being the first play to be set in British North America, and containing romanticized depiction of Native Americans. Adrienne Eastwood has provided full and helpful notes and a valuable selection of contextual material, documenting the events which inspired the play and enabling the reader to appreciate Behn’s radical transformation of the historical record.” — Derek W. Hughes, The University of Aberdeen
“Adrienne Eastwood’s new edition of The Widdow Ranter offers students access to one of Aphra Behn’s most important plays. Eastwood accompanies the play with useful primary texts that will deepen students’ understanding of the complex colonial context in which The Widdow Ranter is set, reminding us that Behn’s last play, like her more famous novel, Oroonoko, critiques English imperial ambitions.” — Melissa Mowry, St. John’s University
“This edition of The Widow Ranter makes the play available and comprehensible to students and researchers alike. The introduction is concise yet comprehensive, giving an overview of Aphra Behn’s life, her literary output, the play, and the time period. It covers all the most important contexts needed for understanding the play, especially for inclusion in the undergraduate classroom. At the same time, the excerpts of writings by Nathaniel Bacon as well as the pamphlets recounting the events of his rebellion in the ‘In Context’ section unites important historical texts that have been critical to the study of the play but never published together in one place. This Broadview edition of The Widow Ranter situates the play within its historical context while also making it accessible to a wider readership.” — Ula Klein, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh