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date: 16 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Taking as its focus the satirical play The Female Wits: or, the Triumvirate of Poets at Rehearsal (1696) this chapter reconstructs the satirical milieu around female dramatists at the turn of the eighteenth century. The leading playwright Susannah Centlivre repeatedly claimed that female dramatists only found success where they obscured their gender, with discriminatory attitudes laying them open to ‘the carping Malice of the Vulgar World’. This chapter explores the extent to which this was true, examining whether we should read The Female Wits as a misogynistic silencing of women playwrights, or rather as a work that speaks to their commercial popularity. By contextualizing this analysis through the writings of Centlivre and her contemporaries Delarivier Manley, Mary Pix, and Catharine Trotter, as well as considering their treatment in the stage reform debates, the chapter argues that scholars may have overestimated the power of satire to curtail the careers of female dramatists.

Keywords: women, drama, satire, gender, Centlivre, Manley, Pix, Trotter, Collier, Dryden

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