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Privacy, Playreading, and Women's Closet Drama, 1550–1700
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  • 7 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 196 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.46 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 822/.3099287
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: PR678.W6 S77 2004
  • LC Subject headings:
    • English drama--Women authors--History and criticism
    • English drama--Early modern and Elizabethan, 10-1600--History and criticism
    • English drama--Restoration, 1660-1700--History and criticism
    • Women and literature--Great Britain--History--17th century
    • Women and literature--Great Britain--History--16th century

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521841245 | ISBN-10: 0521841240)

Marta Straznicky offers a detailed historical analysis of early modern women's closet plays: plays explicitly written for reading, rather than public performance. She reveals that such works were part of an alternative dramatic tradition, an elite and private literary culture, which was understood as intellectually superior to and politically more radical than commercial drama. Elizabeth Cary, Jane Lumley, Anne Finch and Margaret Cavendish wrote their plays in this conjunction of the public and the private at a time when male playwrights dominated the theatres. In her astute readings of the texts, their contexts and their physical appearance in print or manuscript, Straznicky has produced many fresh insights into the place of women's closet plays both in the history of women's writing and in the history of English drama.

• This study is the first to examine in detail the practices of reading plays in the early modern period, setting out new methodologies for the study of these undervalued texts in their time • Includes a critical and historical analysis of the prefatory material to published plays, showing how female playwrights presented themselves and their work to their readers • Investigates the links between the typographic and scribal design of published and manuscript plays


Introduction; 1. Privacy, play reading and performance; 2. Jane Lumley: humanist translation and the culture of play reading; 3. Elizabeth Cary: 'private' drama and print; 4. Margaret Cavendish: the closing of the theatres and the politics of play reading; 5. Anne Finch: authorship, privacy and the Restoration stage; Conclusion. 'Closet' drama: Private space, private stage, and gender; Bibliography.


Review of the hardback: '… engaging argument …'. The Times Literary Supplement

Review of the hardback: 'The book is a stimulating and suggestive study. The material presented is important in identifying the place of women's closet plays in English drama and in offering fresh insights into the way in which they are more politically charged than commercial drama. Straznicky presents us with a scholarly and carefully researched piece of work that will prove useful for future studies of seventeenth-century closet drama and of early modern female playwrights.' Theatre Research International

Review of the hardback: 'Marta Straznicky's book is an essential read for anyone interested in the period 1550–1700, but particularly in women's history and its relationship to the act of writing. The research is impressive and the writing style eloquent, persuasive and accessible, as we are taken on a fascinating journey into the sensitivities surrounding women and writing in the period …' Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Theatre

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