The only edition of Venice Preserved to appear in Otway's lifetime was the quarto of 1682 printed for Joseph Hindmarsh and recorded in The Term Catalogues for Easter (May) of that year. This is the basis of the present edition. The copy-text is from the Bodleian Library, Oxford (Mal. B. 272). This has been collated with the "variant" first quarto in Bodley (in which the final "e" is omitted from "theatre" on the title page), but no substantive variants have been found. There were two issues of a second edition in 1696, one printed for R. Bentley and James Knapton, the other for Knapton alone, and a third edition in 1704. These have been collated with the first quarto, as has also the text printed by Tonson in the collected edition of Otway's Works, 1712. The first quarto was carelessly set; the second follows the first closely but corrects numerous errors; the third was set from the second but introduces several unnecessary emendations; and the text in the Works was derived from the third quarto. In the present edition the obvious misprints in the first quarto have been silently corrected. Variants from the later editions accepted into the present text, and a few viable alternative readings, are recorded in the textual apparatus.
Venice Preserved, or, a Plot Discovered was first performed by the Duke's Company at Dorset Garden on February 9, 1682. The ostensible cause of the production was political. As the subtitle indicates, Otway was exploiting for literary ends the furore caused by the Popish Plot, and the play was offered by the Company to celebrate the fall of Shaftesbury and the collapse of the Whigs' maneuvers to exclude the Duke of York from the succession. Almost two years . . .