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Behn, Aphra.

Plays. Histories and Novels Written by the Late Ingenious Mrs. Behn.

Book

Behn, Aphra. Plays Written by the Late Ingenious Mrs. Behn. In Four Volumes. The Third Edition. London: Printed for Mary Poulson and sold by A. Bettesworth, 1724.
4 vols., 12mo.; foxed; endpapers offset from binding turn-ins; green ribbon bookmarks in each volume; contemporary ownership signature, "J. Rolfe," on top right corner of each title page - save for Vol. I - with an ink monogram on the verso of the title page; armorial bookplate of Thomas Hutton on each front pastedown; contemporary full calf; stamped in blind and gilt.
Third edition; with an engraved portrait of the author by B. Cole opposite the title page in the first volume, and six engraved plates by J. Pine. The contents of each volume are as follows: Vol. I: Containing, I. The Rover; or, the Banish'd Cavaliers. II. The Second Part of the Fame. III. The Dutch Lover. IV. The Roundheads; or, the Good Old Cause. Vol. II: Abdelazer; or, The Moor's Revenge. The Young King; or, The Mistake. The City Heiress; or, Sir Timothy Treatall. The Feign'd Curtezans; or. A Night's Intrigue. Vol. III: The Town-Fop; or, Sir Timothy Tawdry. The False Count; or, A New Way to Play an Old Game. The Lucky Chance; or, An Alderman's Bargain. Forc'd Marriage; or, The Jealous Bridegroom. Vol. IV: Sir Patient Fancy, The Widow Rancher; or, the History of Bacon in Virginia. The Emperor of the Moon. The Amorous Prince. The Younger Brother; or, the Amorous Jilt.
Together With:
Behn, Aphra. All the Histories and Novels Written by the Late Ingenious Mrs. Behn, Intire in Two Volumes. Published by Mr. Charles Gildon. The Seventh Edition, Corrected, and illustrated with Cuts. London: Printed by J.D. for M.P. and sold by A. Bettesworth, 1722.
2 vols., 12mo.; foxed; endpapers offset from binding turn-ins; green ribbon bookmarks in each volume; contemporary ownership signature, "J. Rolfe," on top right corner of title pages with an ink monogram on the verso of the title page; armorial bookplate of Thomas Hutton on front pastedowns; contemporary full calf; stamped in blind and gilt.
Seventh edition, corrected, and illustrated with cuts. With an engraved portrait of the author by B. Cole opposite the title page in the first volume. The contents of each volume are as follows: Vol. I: The Life and Memoirs of Mrs. Behn. The History of Oroonoko; or, the Royal Slave. The Fair Jilt; or, the Amours of Prince Tarquin and Miranda. The Nun; or, the Perhured Beauty. Vol. II: Agnes de Castro; or, the Force of Generous Love. The Lovers Watch; or, the Art of Making Love: Being Rules for Courtship for Every Hour of the Day and Night. The Ladies Looking-Glass to Dress Themselves by; or, the Whole Art of Charming all Mankind. The Lucky Mistake. Memoirs of the Court of the King of Bantam. The Adventures of the Black Lady.
These two posthumously published sets include all of Behn's plays, stories and novels; she also published several poems - including erotic poetry - that are not included.
Aphra Behn was born around 1640, near Kent, England. In 1663 her father was transferred to Surinam on a military post, but died en route. After her return to London, Aphra married Hans Behn, a Dutch merchant, in 1665. The marriage was brief; Hans died in London after an outbreak of the Bubonic plague. Behn became active in the court of Charles II, and in 1666 she was summoned to act as a spy for him during England's war against Holland. As a result of this experience, she ended up in debtor's prison in 1668; when she was released she vowed to support herself, turning to a literary career to this end.
Behn's decision to take up writing coincided with the renaissance of the London stage under the reign of Charles II. The theatre had experienced decades of decline after the Civil War in London, but by the 1670s two theater companies had re-opened. One of them, Duke's Company at Dorset Garden, produced Behn's first play in 1670, whose title suggests autobiographical undertones: The Forc'd Marriage; or, The Jealous Bridegroom. All of her plays - sixteen were published in her lifetime - are infused with the lighthearted, often salacious, spirit of Restoration England. Her most successful was The Rover; or, the Banish'd Cavaliers; this is the first play in Volume I of this collection of her theatrical works. Produced in 1677 at the Dorset Garden Theatre, it is primarily a comedic, sharp-witted show with some dark and serious undercurrents. Arlene Steibel writes of Behn's "notoriety as a dramatist," and of her ability to "portray scandalous material in an acceptable form." Sexual politics was one of her favorite themes. Behn's female characters are especially memorable and untraditional: they are opinionated, witty, and confident.
Behn did not confine herself to the dramatic form. The author of fourteen novels and two collections of poetry, whose language has been compared to that of Sappho, she drew upon feminist themes and autobiographical details for these writings as well. Her experiences in South America served as fodder for her 1688 novel Oroonoko, or, The Royal Slave, which boasts a trio of literary "firsts:" the first novel in the genre of realism, the first polemic against slavery, and the first appearance of the "noble savage" in literature.
Behn died in 1689, and was buried in the cloisters at Westminster Abbey. She enjoyed resounding popularity for her works, during her lifetime and posthumously. The 1724 edition of Plays Written by the Late Ingenious Mrs. Behn was the third edition in a run of three; the first was published in 1702 and the second followed in 1716. The 1722 edition of All the Histories and Novels Written by the Late Ingenious Mrs. Behn was first published in 1696 and went through eight editions, the last of which was published in 1735. Her works continue to be reissued to this day.  
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