Women Dramatists of the Early Restoration Period

Part of the English Dramatists book series (ENGDRAMA)


The Restoration period was, of course, a time of innovation as far as the involvement of women with the theatre is concerned. The first woman ever to publish her collected dramatic works in folio editions, in 1662 and 1668 — indeed, the first female playwright ever to bring out her work — was Margaret Lucas Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (the stepmother to Elizabeth and Jane, discussed in Chapter 1). Yet, like her aristocratic predecessors, she did not write for the public stage, less for genteel considerations than because, as she confessed in the dedication to her Playes (1662), she feared they would be booed. Unlike her forerunners, however, she wrote and published with the avowed hope of achieving lasting fame (Prologue of Playes), an ambition which echoes Aphra Behri’s wistful wish for immortality. This flouted the canons of respectability of her sex and even more the decorum of her class, which regarded publication as the reward of fame, not as a means of achieving it.14 In fact, she was more ambitious than talented as a dramatist, but by dint of her feminist outspokenness she has lately received a lot of attention from modern scholars.


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Copyright information

© Margarete Rubik 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ViennaAustria

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