''The Convent of Pleasure'' and Other Plays / Edition 1

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Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (1623-1673), until recently remembered more as a flamboyant eccentric than as a serious writer, was in fact the most prolific, thought-provoking, and original woman writer of the Restoration. Cavendish is the author of many poems, short stories, biographies, memoirs, letters, philosophical and scientific works (including The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing World, the first work of science fiction by a woman), and nineteen plays.

"The Convent of Pleasure" and Other Plays collects four of Cavendish's dramatic works that are among the most revealing of her attitudes toward marriage and her desire for fame. Loves Adventures (1662) centers on a woman succeeding in war and diplomacy by passing as a man. Similarly, the heroine of Bell in Campo (1662) rescues her husband at the head of an army of women in this tale of a marriage of near equals. The Convent of Pleasure (1668) proposes a separatist community of women and has received attention for its suggestion of lesbian sexuality. The Bridals (1662), a more typical restoration comedy satirizing marriage, rounds out the collection.

Edited with notes and annotation by Anne Shaver, "The Convent of Pleasure" and Other Plays also contains a timeline, biography and bibliography of the Duchess, an appreciation of Cavendish's life and work, and a bibliography of critical essays. Also included are all of Cavendish's epistles To the Reader as well as Other Preliminary Matter from Playes (1662), and Cavendish's original preface to Plays Never Before Printed (1668). A valuable collection from an extraordinary writer, "The Convent of Pleasure" and Other Plays raises important issues about women and gender.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Review of English Studies
Her introductory material places its initial emphasis upon biographical narrative _ an invaluable context in which to understand Cavendish's work, and most especially her dramatic writing, which is obsessed by the cultural anxieties surrounding the female intellectual of high birth who seeks a more public identity.

— Andrew Hiscock

Review of English Studies - Andrew Hiscock

Her introductory material places its initial emphasis upon biographical narrative _ an invaluable context in which to understand Cavendish's work, and most especially her dramatic writing, which is obsessed by the cultural anxieties surrounding the female intellectual of high birth who seeks a more public identity.

Four plays by the English Duchess of Newcastle from 1662 and 1668 publications: and its second part, the first and second parts of , , and . The edition incorporates but also signals the list of errata included with the 1668 volume, and generally alters the layout to be convenient for modern readers. It also appends letters and introductions and a supplies chronology. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801861000
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 296
  • Sales rank: 1,386,989
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Shaver is Lorena Woodrow Burke Professor of English at Denison University in Granville, Ohio.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Note on Editorial Method
Introduction: Margaret Cavendish's Life as a Writer 1
Loves Adventures. Play 21
The Second Part of Loves Adventures 65
The First Part of Bell in Campo 107
The Second Part of Bell in Campo 141
The Bridals. A Comedy 171
The Convent of Pleasure. A Comedy 217
Appendixes 249
A Dedicatory Poems and Author's Epistles Preceding the Texts in Playes, 1662 253
B An Introduction, 1662 268
C Epistle Appended to Playes, 1662 271
D Author's Epistle Preceding Plays Never Before Printed, 1668 273
E Errata 274
Selected Bibliography 277
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