The Rival Widows, or Fair Libertine (1735)

By Mrs Elizabeth Cooper
Edited by Tiffany Potter

© 2013

Elizabeth Cooper’s The Rival Widows, or Fair Libertine provides a unique opportunity to restore to scholarly and pedagogical attention a neglected female writer and a play with broad and significant implications for studies of eighteenth-century history, culture and gender. Following the adventures of Lady Bellair, a “glowing, joyous young Widow,” the storyline regenders standard expectations about desire, marriage, libertinism and sentiment. The play has not been reprinted since 1735; therefore this old-spelling edition gives scholars access to an important but neglected resource for studies of women writers and eighteenth-century theatre.

In an original and extensive introduction, Tiffany Potter presents cultural and historical information that highlights the scholarly implications of this newly available play. She offers a brief biographical sketch of the playwright; a summary of sources for specific elements of the play; an overview of the theatrical climate of the time (with particular focus on the conditions leading to the Licensing Act of 1737); a discussion of the place of women in eighteenth-century society; a summary of symbiotic cultural discourses of libertinism and sensibility in the early eighteenth century; and a discussion of the general cultural significance of Cooper’s demonstration of the malleability of prescriptive gender roles. Further value is added to this edition through its appendices, which reproduce documents relating to the playwright Elizabeth Cooper and to the Licensing Act of 1737 (including the text of the Act itself).

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 208 pages
  • Illustrations: 7
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.5in x 9.1in
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SKU# SP003687

  • PUBLISHED JAN 2013

    From: $23.21

    Regular Price: $30.95

    ISBN 9781442615458
  • AVAILABLE JAN 2013
    From: $24.95

Quick Overview

Elizabeth Cooper’s The Rival Widows, or Fair Libertine provides a unique opportunity to restore to scholarly and pedagogical attention a neglected female writer and a play with broad and significant implications for studies of eighteenth-century history, culture and gender.

The Rival Widows, or Fair Libertine (1735)

By Mrs Elizabeth Cooper
Edited by Tiffany Potter

© 2013

Elizabeth Cooper’s The Rival Widows, or Fair Libertine provides a unique opportunity to restore to scholarly and pedagogical attention a neglected female writer and a play with broad and significant implications for studies of eighteenth-century history, culture and gender. Following the adventures of Lady Bellair, a “glowing, joyous young Widow,” the storyline regenders standard expectations about desire, marriage, libertinism and sentiment. The play has not been reprinted since 1735; therefore this old-spelling edition gives scholars access to an important but neglected resource for studies of women writers and eighteenth-century theatre.

In an original and extensive introduction, Tiffany Potter presents cultural and historical information that highlights the scholarly implications of this newly available play. She offers a brief biographical sketch of the playwright; a summary of sources for specific elements of the play; an overview of the theatrical climate of the time (with particular focus on the conditions leading to the Licensing Act of 1737); a discussion of the place of women in eighteenth-century society; a summary of symbiotic cultural discourses of libertinism and sensibility in the early eighteenth century; and a discussion of the general cultural significance of Cooper’s demonstration of the malleability of prescriptive gender roles. Further value is added to this edition through its appendices, which reproduce documents relating to the playwright Elizabeth Cooper and to the Licensing Act of 1737 (including the text of the Act itself).

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 208 pages
  • Illustrations: 7
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.5in x 9.1in
  • Reviews

    “Literary history rarely politely follows the trajectories literary scholars have laid out for it and Elizabeth Cooper’s The Rival Widows is an example of a non-sentimental comedy in an era often regarded as one in which sentiment ruled. Tiffany Potter’s edition, now in paperback, makes widely available to scholars and students a witty and enjoyable play which, if it has been neglected in the past, will surely not be ignored in the future.”
    Jessica Munns, Department of English, University of Denver

    “This lively play, with its independent, pleasure-loving heroine, is a valuable addition to the growing number of accessible editions of eighteenth-century plays and of women,s writing.  Tiffany Potter has supplied an authoritative introduction that contextualizes the play in several ways, including within theatrical practices of the time and within major social and intellectual movements. The illustrations are well-chosen, as are the important documents printed as appendices.”
    Paula R. Backscheider, Philpott-Stevens Eminent Scholar, Department of English, Auburn University

    “Tiffany Potter’s erudite edition of The Rival Widows not only reclaims this valuable script for theatre history, but also provides a lucid introduction that argues persuasively for the singular importance of this play. It allows one to see the sheer complexity of the sexual and theatrical economies of the early eighteenth century.”
    Daniel O’Quinn, Professor, School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph
  • Author Information

    Tiffany Potter teaches eighteenth-century British and American literature at the University of British Columbia. Her most recent book is the edited collection Women, Popular Culture, and the Eighteenth Century.

  • Table of contents

    List of Illustrations

    Preface by the General Editors

    Acknowledgements

    Introduction

    The Rival Widows, or Fair Libertine

    Appendix A: Elizabeth Cooper’s Announcement of her Benefit Performance
    The Grub-Street Journal 226 (25 April 1734)

    Appendix B: Review of The Rival Widows
    The Prompter
    34 (7 March 1735)

    Appendix C: Argument in Support of the Proposed Licensing Act
    The Daily Gazetteer (6 and 8 June 1737)

    Appendix D: Lord Chesterfield’s Address to Parliament Against the Proposed Licensing Act

    Appendix E: The Licensing Act of 1737

    Appendix F: Elizabeth Cooper’s Preface to The Muses Library (1737)

    Bibliography

    Index

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