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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.
This chapter explores literary representations of believers’ baptism published during the English Revolution. It focuses, in particular, on two surviving testimonies recounting participation in the ordinance originating in Fifth Monarchist communities: Anna Trapnel’s prophetic commemorations of her baptism recorded in 1654 and 1657-8, and the spiritual experiences of twelve-year-old Caleb Vernon published in 1666 as a spiritual antidote to the plague. The recounting of believers’ baptism in Fifth Monarchist communities was shaped by various political, social and doctrinal concerns originating both inside and outside the movement. The ordinance became a nexus of various imaginative affirmations of dissenting identity, including the connection of a present, commemorative act with a triumphant vision of the victorious saints in the near future. Baptisands recognised the commemorative function of baptism as a visible demonstration of their own spiritual regeneration and Christ’s resurrection (as well as other biblical models). However, this chapter will also explore how these surviving testimonies verge on bringing the past into the present, sometimes invoking divine presence through the physical gestures they describe. In such accounts, partly designed to urge fellow dissenters to undergo the ordinance, some believers appear to have transposed the pre-Reformation focus on immanence and sensory experience required by ritual acts.