English Drama, 1660-1700

English Drama, 1660-1700

English Drama, 1660-1700

English Drama, 1660-1700


Hughes examines all of the surviving plays written and professionally premiered in England between 1660 and 1700. Hughes analyzes many texts in detail and places them within the range of contemporary theatrical output, with its diversity of outlook and constant shifts in fashion and subject. In addition, Hughes presents an innovative analysis of the plays' political, intellectual, and social background, with extensive discussion of their treatment of women and the contribution of women dramatists.


This book is a critical study of all the surviving plays which were professionally premièred in England between 1660 and 1700: it analyses individual texts, often in detail, but tries to avoid the perils of isolated close reading by seeing each play in relation to the whole span of theatrical activity. It also attempts, on a more modest scale, to extend understanding of the social, political, and philosophical influences which shaped the dramatists' work. In setting particular texts within the total field, I try to achieve something like a close reading of the entire corpus, tracing recurrent and interacting motifs which often elude the eye when texts are viewed in isolation: examples are the stranger, or the woman falsified by history. My focus thus differs from that of Robert D. Hume's The Development of English Drama in the Late Seventeenth Century, but my intention is to complement rather than to challenge that indispensable work.

I discuss plays which received professional performance, though in this and other matters I have tried to place common sense above rigid consistency. It would, for example, be perverse to omit The Country Gentleman and The State of Innocence, and in some cases it is not clear whether a play was performed or not; here, I have generally given it the benefit of the doubt. A few manifestly unperformable plays have been mentioned because they throw some light on the performed repertoire. Perhaps three other pragmatic inconsistencies should be mentioned: I have given subtitles in my text only when they have some particular significance to my argument, and I have discussed The Rehearsal and The Female Wits in chapters on tragedy, in order to see them in conjunction with the plays which they parody. And, after experimenting with the consistent non-modernization of all play titles, I decided that the path of least inconvenience and anomaly would be to follow the form given in the copy-text.

In conformity with current scholarly practice, I use 'Caroline' to mean 'of Charles I' and 'Carolean' to mean 'of Charles II'. Because of the very large number of play-texts cited, I have not given an individual footnote citation for each, but have instead followed the example of Hume The Development of English Drama in the Late Seventeenth Century in documenting copy-texts by means of a separate index of plays. The index is preceded by a bibliography of all dramatic texts cited, other than original quartos, and index entries are accompanied by a parenthetical indication of the text used, a simple parenthetical date being that of a quarto.

Clearly, the fundamental work of reference for a project such as this is Part . . .

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