The Celebrated Mrs. Centlivre

The Celebrated Mrs. Centlivre

The Celebrated Mrs. Centlivre

The Celebrated Mrs. Centlivre

Excerpt

The Busy Body and The Wonder: A Woman Keeps a Secret survived through the nineteenth century as stockpieces in the English and American theater. Except for Shakespeare, this statement can be made for only four comedies of acknowledged literary merit which were written before 1750--these two by Susanna Centlivre, A New Way to Pay Old Debts by Philip Massinger, and She Would and She Would Not by Colley Cibber.

Mrs. Centlivre was the most prolific playwright in England from 1700 to 1722, and for her might reasonably be claimed the rank of the most popular woman dramatist in English. The continued popularity of her plays kept her name before the public, not as the author of historical classics, but as a part of the living theater. Most of the great actors and actresses of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries won reputation in her comedies. The rivalry of David Garrick and Henry Woodward in the role of Marplot has perhaps not been matched. Also Garrick had such extraordinary success as Don Felix, the jealous young lover of The Wonder, that he chose this role in which to close his acting career.

Susanna Centlivre was a person of some importance in the literary life of the first quarter of the eighteenth century. She published letters in the popular fashion and wrote an imposing list of complimentary and occasional poems for the great and . . .

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