8vo, pp. , 84, , with a half-title and a terminal blank (both dusty); scattered foxing, but a good copy in modern wrappers.
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The Fugitive: a Comedy. As it is performed at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket …
First edition of the first play by Sheridan’s friend, the writer and politican Joseph Richardson, proprietor of the Morning Post and later of the Drury Lane Theatre (by 1796 he had a £12,000 stake); this is the second issue, with sheets K-M reset to add extra dialogue to Act V, scene I.
‘Lampooing the absurdities of the value system based on birth and title … the play elicited criticism from the duke of Portland for “vilifying the aristocracy”’(The House of Commons, 1790-1820). But, ‘the dialogue throughout is remarkably elegant, the wit chaste and the characters ably delineated’ (London Review), and it ran for seven nights in 1792-3.
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La locanda commedia da rappresentarsi in Firenze nel Teatro di Via del Cocomero nell’autunno dell’anno 1756.
Sole edition, extremely rare (no other copy listed in library catalogues), of this three-act comedy, a notable example of the new Italian comedy inspired by Goldoni. This work appears to echo Goldoni’s La vedova scaltra (1748), while developing the plot and the theme along original trajectories. The most recognizable persona of the servant in the Commedia dell’Arte, Arlecchino, for example, features here in the unusual role of landlord, and the dynamics of the comedy of errors involve such characters as an English merchant, a German colonel, a French gentlemen, each linguistically marked with mock-national traits in the dialogues.
A COMMERCIAL DISASTER, WITH AN EPILOGUE BY FIELDING [JOHNSON, Charles].
Caelia: or, the perjur’d Lover. A Play. As it is acted at the Theatre-Royal in Drury-Lane, by His Majesty’s Servants …
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.