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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
March 2021
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Book description

Aphra Behn (1640-1689) is renowned as the first professional woman of literature and drama in English. Her career in the Restoration theatre extended over two decades, encompassing remarkable generic range and diversity. Her last five plays, written and performed between 1682 and 1696, include city comedies (The City-Heiress, The Luckey Chance), a farce (The Emperor of the Moon), a tragicomedy (The Widdow Ranter), and a comedy of family inheritance (The Younger Brother). These plays exemplify Behn's skills in writing for individual performers, and exhibit the topical political engagement for which she is renowned. They witness to Behn's popularity with theatre audiences during the politically and financially difficult years of the 1680s and even after her death. Informed by the most up-to-date research in computational attribution, this fully annotated edition draws on recent scholarship to provide a comprehensive guide to Behn's work, and the literary, theatrical and political history of the Restoration.


Winner, 2021 Josephine Roberts Award for a Scholarly Edition, Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and Gender (SSEMWG)

Winner, 2023 MLA Distinguished Scholarly Edition Award, Modern Language Association


‘This is an encyclopaedic edition, with a full command of modern historical scholarship and of contemporary plays, pamphlets and polemics … Behn’s is a witty, humorous, indignant, but pessimistic and truly distinctive voice. This fine edition allows it to be heard clearly for our time and, with luck, will lead to more performances of her plays. In the meantime, one thing is sure: that Aphra Behn would have relished the new attention and publicity it brings and, since she complained about the negligence of her printers, the extreme care of the production.’

Derek Hughes and Janet Todd Source: The Times Literary Supplement

‘No doubt this richly annotated collection will facilitate a wealth of further inspiring discussion on Behn in the future.’

Amelia Mills Source: Women's Writing

‘an impressive production that does full justice to Behn's now canonical status… this first glimpse into the Cambridge Edition offers a refreshing presentation of Behn's oeuvre, setting her texts in light of recent scholarly interests and in a wealth of contextual detail regarding Restoration English culture that has become increasingly available in recent years … the series promises to become not only the indispensable scholarly resource for all serious research on Behn, but also an indispensable collection for all serious research on Restoration culture.’

Source: The Review of English Studies

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