Caelia: or, the perjur’d Lover. A Play. As it is acted at the Theatre-Royal in Drury-Lane, by His Majesty’s Servants …

London: Printed for J. Watts … 1733.

8vo., pp. [12], 60, with half-title but wanting the two leaves of advertisements at the end; a2 dampstained, top corner of C5 torn, affecting pagination and headline, rust-hole touching several letters in E4 (easily supplied), disbound.


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First edition. Caelia, Johnson’s last theatrical production, is an attack on the fashionable libertinism of the day. As the Preface explains, however, he refused to take Barton Booth’s advice and expunge the vivid brothel scenes, and a fastidious audience answered with their pockets. The play, performed on 11 December 1732, was a commercial disaster, and Booth quickly sold off the rights to John Watts who published it with an epilogue by Henry Fielding. After Caelia had lost him his benefit at Drury Lane, Johnson abandoned his career as a playwright and seems to have run a tavern round the corner in Bow Street, Covent Garden (Oxford DNB). Cross III, 296.

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