MURDER IN THE SERAGLIO

Mirza. A Tragedie, really acted in Persia, in the last Age. Illustrated with historicall Annotations.

London: Printed for Humphrey Moseley … [1655?].

8vo., pp. [16], 264; some pen trials to title page, damp-staining to upper left corner throughout; otherwise a good copy in nineteenth-century half red morocco and marbled boards; marbled endpapers.

£850

Approximately:
US $1074€954

Add to basket Make an enquiry

Added to your basket:
Mirza. A Tragedie, really acted in Persia, in the last Age. Illustrated with historicall Annotations.

Checkout now

First edition of Baron’s last literary endeavour, a violent revenge tragedy influenced by Jonson’s Catiline, mostly in verse, packed with political intrigue, murders ‘and Seraglio’s too’, all fitting subjects for its exotic setting. Not intended for performance, which been impossible during the Commonwealth, it was meant instead to be ‘read and carefully digested’ and is, ‘by the standards of its day, an exceptionally long and elaborate play’ (Birchwood, Staging Islam in England).

Mirza is a virtuous prince whose father, the murderous King Abbas, attempts to assassinate him but relents just as Mirza is being throttled. Alive, but in the palace dungeons, Mirza plots his revenge. Discovering that his daughter, Fatima, is now the favourite of her grandfather Abbas’s immense seraglio, Mirza calls her to his cell and strangles her. After Mirza takes his own life, the grieving Abbas relents of his wickedness before dying.

Besides its colourfully incestuous and bloodthirsty plot, Mirza is notable for the author’s claims to historical authenticity: it is a tragedy ‘really acted in Persia’ – its source being the letters written from Persia by the diplomat Dodmore Cotton, also the source for John Denham’s similar tragedy, The Sophy (1641). The historical ‘truth’ of the play is supported by over two hundred pages of annotations, by which Baron offers the ‘Key to Every Lock’.

‘It has been stated that, on account of the dedication [in verse, addressed to ‘His Majestie’, i.e. Charles I], this piece must have been published before 1649, but as it was not entered in the Stationers’ Register until 1655, and as the Thomason copy is dated 5th May [1655], that is doubtless the date of publication’ (Pforzheimer).

Pforzheimer 43; Birchwood, p. 74; Greg, II, 744.

You may also be interested in...

BERDINI, Vincenzo.

Historia dell’antica, e moderna Palestina. Descritta in tre parti . . . Nella quale si hà particolare descrittione de’ luoghe più singolari del sito, qualità di essi, governo, costume, guerre, rivolutioni, & altri successi notabili.

First edition; scarce. The Minorite friar Vincenzo Berdini was named Commissioner General of the Holy Land by Paul V in 1615. It is not known how long he spent in the Near East, but it was apparently long enough for him to visit and carefully study the principal holy sites (‘di vedere, ed’intender bene la verità de i luoghi santi della Palestina’, p. [v]). This extensive work, the fruit both of his travels and of professedly wide reading, is divided into three parts: the first is concerned with Palestine in relation to the Old Testament, the second is an analysis of the places mentioned in the Gospels, and in the third are described the various Christian communities then present in the Near East (Greeks, Latins, Georgians, Maronites, Armenians, and so on) as well as the prayers, hymns and rites used in the principal churches and by pilgrims.

Read more

‘OH, CAPTAIN SHAW!’ SHAW, Eyre Massey, Capt.

Report … to the Right Hon. the Secretary of State of the Home Department concerning the Fire which occurred at the Theatre Royal, Exeter, on the 5th of September 1887 …

First edition of Shaw’s account of the disastrous fire at the Theatre Royal, Exeter, in 1887.

Read more