Play Library

The play library was reviewed and edited by university professors with a focus in historic plays by women.

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Governor Dulcitius of Macedonia seeks out the holy virgins Agape, Chionia, and Irene with intent to rape them. He enters their dwelling, but his evil intent is negated: he becomes the victim of a delusion, under which he mistakes for the objects of h…
 

About the Playwright

Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim
Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim
Born 930-935, Died 973-1002 EARLY YEARS: Most information about Hrotsvitha is inferred from primary source materials, as exact biographical details about her life have been lost to history. She is confirmed to have been a tenth century canoness, which is a precursor to what is known now as a nun; secular canonesses similar to Hrotsvitha were usually members of wealthy, noble families, especially in Germany, and their superiors, known as abbesses, were also of notable upbringing and rank. Hrotsv…
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The Tragedy of Mariam is the tale of the death of Mariam, the second wife of Herod the Great, the King of Palestine from 39-4 BC. As the play opens, friends and family discuss the news of Herod’s death.  Seizing the opportunity, each engages in illic…
 

About the Playwright

Elizabeth Cary
Elizabeth Cary
Elizabeth Cary, born at Burford Priory in Oxfordshire, was the first female writer to publish work under her own name and thought to be the first femal playwright to write in English. A poet, dramatist, and translator Elizabeth was known for her fluency in multiple languages, such as French and Hebrew. Born to Sir Lawrence Tanfield and Elizabeth Symonds, and though they supported her passion for learning, are said to have refused her a candle for reading at night so she would rest from her studi…
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After the death of Lord Fortunate, Lady Happy—being his only heir—inherits her father’s wealth and decides to forsake marriage, invite twenty ladies to her estate, and create a cloistered community called the Convent of Pleasure where the presence of…
 

About the Playwright

Margaret Cavendish
Margaret Cavendish
Margaret Lucas Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (1623-1673) With more than twenty published works to her name, Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, is considered to be one of the most prolific female playwrights in Restoration England. Her publications range from poetry to essays about philosophy and science to novels. Cavendish’s most popular publications are her biography of her husband The Life of William Cavendish (1667) and The Blazing World (1668), which is often credited as one of th…
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Part I: Set during Carnival, The Rover tells of the adventures in Naples of Willmore and his banished friends, Blunt, Frederick, and Belvile. While the title refers to Willmore, who is The Rover, the plot is driven heavily by Hellena and Florinda, tw…
 

About the Playwright

Aphra Behn
Aphra Behn
Aphra Behn (1640?-1689)             With at least eighteen plays to her name, Aphra Behn was England’s first professional female playwright. Almost all of her works were produced during her lifetime, while two premiered posthumously. She enjoyed the company of other professional playwrights, theatre managers, and actresses, including Thomas Killigrew, Lady Mary Davenant, and Elizabeth Barry.             Her most popular plays were her comedies, a genre in which she demanded recognition and she…
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In this iconic Restoration comedy, arranged marriages are the subject for despair. Two witty young ladies, Leticia and Julia, find themselves arranged to older out-of-touch gentlemen, Sir Feeble Fainwou’d and Sir Cautious Fulbank. Each woman devises …
 

About the Playwright

Aphra Behn
Aphra Behn
Aphra Behn (1640?-1689)             With at least eighteen plays to her name, Aphra Behn was England’s first professional female playwright. Almost all of her works were produced during her lifetime, while two premiered posthumously. She enjoyed the company of other professional playwrights, theatre managers, and actresses, including Thomas Killigrew, Lady Mary Davenant, and Elizabeth Barry.             Her most popular plays were her comedies, a genre in which she demanded recognition and she…
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1845
 
Fashion is a satire of nouveau riche Americans who aspire to the pretensions of upper-class Europeans. The extravagant Mrs. Tiffany and her equally frivolous daughter nearly lead the family into ruin. Countering them are Gertrude, a young governess f…
 

About the Playwright

Anna Cora Mowatt
Anna Cora Mowatt
Anna Cora Ogden Mowatt Ritchie (1819-1870) was a playwright, performer, poet, novelist, essayist and memoir writer who began publishing her work while still a teenager. Fashion is generally considered the best nineteenth century comedy, and her invaluable Autobiography of an Actress provides humorous and penetrating insights into the theater of her time. Anna was born in Bordeaux, France, on March 5, 1819, to an American family that returned to the United States when she was six. Married at fif…
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This play is Harriet Beecher’s Stowe dramatization of her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Focusing much more than other dramatizations on the slaves’ domestic lives, the play begins in Uncle Tom’s cabin with George Shelby helping Tom with his writing and Ch…
 

About the Playwright

Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896)             Abolitionist and author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe was at the forefront of the antebellum, anti-slavery movement. She started her career as a writer publishing articles in magazines, for which she became moderately famous, before penning what is considered her masterpiece, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852).[1] It was an immensely popular and provocative book—Abraham Lincoln allegedly once greeted Stowe as “the little woman who wrote that boo…
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Set in New York from 1903-1905, The House of Mirth explores the influence of social structure upon individuals—the conventions, norms, and consequences of high society’s cattiness are omnipresent in both the novel and play.  The play chronicles the i…
 

About the Playwright

Edith Wharton
Edith Wharton
Edith Wharton (1862 – 1937), one of the most prolific internationally-renowned literary figures of the turn of the twentieth century, has inspired generations of writers, scholars, and literary critics. Both Wharton’s personal and professional transitions are written between the lines of her novels, poems, short stories, and nonfiction works; however, her work as a playwright has received less attention.  Although Wharton’s identity as a playwright was never a defining persona, in retrospect, th…
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