Complete Plays of Frances Burney

Complete Plays of Frances Burney: Volume 1: Comedies. Volume 2: Tragedies

Contributing Editor GEOFFREY M. SILL
Associate Editor STEWART J. COOKE
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 783
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  • Book Info
    Complete Plays of Frances Burney
    Book Description:

    In the plays, as in her novels, Burney satirizes the social conventions and pretensions of her day. The Witlings (1779), her first play, is a biting satire on the Bluestockings; it was never performed, however, for fear of a possible scandal. The violent, the grotesque, and the macabre also figure strongly in her writings.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6555-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Volume 1
    • Front Matter
      (pp. i-iv)
    • Table of Contents
      (pp. v-v)
      (pp. vi-vi)
      (pp. vii-viii)
      (pp. ix-x)
      (pp. xi-xli)

      In autumn 1993 an English theatre company, the aptly named Show of Strength, mounted a production of Frances Burney’s comic drama,A Busy Day(c. 1800–02). Directed by Alan Coveney at the Hen and Chicken Theatre, Bristol, the production played to full houses throughout its four-week run from 29 September to 23 October. In a programme note Coveney describes his discovery, in early 1992, of Tara Wallace’s edition of the play, remaindered in a bookshop, and conveys his enthusiasm for ‘this wonderful play’, which ‘has lain dormant, waiting for a theatre to discover it and for actors to bring...

      (pp. xlii-xlv)

      In an influential essay on the text of Tom Stoppard’sNight and Day(1978), Philip Gaskell points out that play texts typically go through three stages:

      There is first the script, the written version of what was originally intended to be said. Second, there is the performance text, what is actually said in one or more performances. And third, there is the reading text, the version subsequently published by the author as a record of what might or should have been said.a

      Recent editors of late eighteenth-century plays, mindful of Gaskell’s observation, have considered three potential sources of copy-text for...

      (pp. xlvi-xlviii)
    • The Witlings (1778–80) A Comedy By a Sister of the Order
      (pp. 1-102)

      There is only one surviving manuscript ofThe Witlings, a fair copy in Burney’s hand in the Berg Collection. It consists of 165 pages in five notebooks, one for each act, of which only the first two are numbered. The handwriting, in ink, is exceptionally neat; there are no illegible words in the text itself. On some twenty occasions a word or passage is deleted, usually in pencil and usually with an insertion replacing the deleted material. Most of these cancelled passages are readily legible; for three deleted words conjectural readings are supplied in the textual notes.

      In addition to...

    • Love and Fashion (1798–99) A Comedy In Five Acts
      (pp. 103-190)

      There is only one surviving manuscript ofLove and Fashion, a fair copy in ink in Burney’s neat hand in the Berg Collection, transcribed in a notebook of 235 pages. Her revisions to this holograph, two-thirds of which are concentrated in the play’s first act, are recorded in the textual notes. Almost all are readily legible; only one conjectural reading has been supplied. The play has not been previously published. Boxed with the notebook in the Berg Collection are thirty scraps of material related to the play. These include a list of characters, in which Lord Ardville is named Lord...

    • The Woman-Hater (1800–02) A Comedy In Five Acts
      (pp. 191-286)

      There are two surviving manuscripts ofThe Woman-Hater, both in the Berg Collection. The first, 486 pages sewn together into five notebooks, one for each act, together with some separate sheets, is in Burney’s hand. The pages used are the backs of letters and of subscription notices forCamilla, dated July 1796. It is very heavily corrected, usually in the ink used for the text but occasionally in pencil. These corrections represent two stages of revisions: those made at the time of writing and those added before the second manuscript was transcribed. This manuscript, a fair copy of 202 pages...

    • A Busy Day (1800–02) or An Arrival from India
      (pp. 287-397)

      There is only one surviving manuscript ofA Busy Day, a fair copy in Alexandre d’Arblay’s clear, neat hand in the Berg Collection. It consists of 322 pages in five notebooks, one for each act. There are numerous alterations, some by d’Arblay correcting errors in transcription but the majority by Burney introducing revisions. The insertions are all legible, but the passages deleted by Burney pose considerable problems. As was her custom, Burney cancelled material by writing over the unwanted words with a series of overlays in black ink. Many of these obliterations were recovered by Tara Ghoshal Wallace, and printed...

    • APPENDIX: Literary Allusions in The Witlings and The Woman-Hater
      (pp. 398-399)
  2. Volume 2
    • Middle Matter
      (pp. i-iv)
      (pp. v-v)
      (pp. vi-vi)
    • Edwy and Elgiva (1788–95) A Tragedy By the Author of Evelina and Cecilia
      (pp. 1-90)

      There are three surviving manuscripts ofEdwy and Elgiva. The first, in the neat hand of a professional copyist employed by the Drury Lane Theatre, is a volume of 81 pages. This copy was submitted for license by John Philip Kemble, the actor-manager of Drury Lane, to the Lord Chamberlain, James Cecil, Marquis of Salisbury, on 9 March 1795. In an accompanying note to the Lord Chamberlain, Kemble states that ‘This Tragedy in five Acts, called Edwy and Elgiva, is designed, with the Permission of the Marquis of Salisbury, for Representation at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane’. The play...

    • Hubert De Vere (1790–97) A Pastoral Tragedy
      (pp. 91-164)

      There are two surviving manuscripts ofHubert De Vere, both in the Berg Collection. The first, in Burney’s hand, consists of 131 pages sewn into notebooks, together with 8 loose scraps. Its original subtitle, ‘A Tragedy’, was at some time changed to ‘A Dramatic Tale, in five parts’. It is very heavily corrected (black ink covering brown), while other revisions are pinned or pasted to the pages on separate pieces of paper. The second manuscript, also in Burney’s hand, is subtitled ‘A Pastoral Tragedy’. It consists of 110 pages sewn together in five notebooks, one for each act. This copy...

    • The Siege of Pevensey (1790–91) A Tragedy By the Author of Evelina and Cecilia
      (pp. 165-228)

      There is only one surviving manuscript ofThe Siege of Pevensey, a fair copy in Burney’s hand in the Berg Collection.aIt consists of 240 pages sewn together in five notebooks, one for each act. The writing is exceptionally clear and legible, and there are very few deletions or revisions. The play has not been previously published.

      At the end of each scene, Burney indicated the number of lines occupied. Much later, in about 1836,bshe noted at the end of each act the time taken for a reading: 25 minutes each for Acts I, II, and III, 20 minutes...

    • Elberta (1791–1814) Sketch for a Tragedy
      (pp. 229-308)

      Elberta, which Burney never completed, survives in a series of autograph fragments in the Berg Collection. These fragments are numbered from 1 to 302 in a modern hand, probably that of Adelaide Smith, cataloguer of the Collection when the Burney papers were acquired in 1941.aThe number assigned to each fragment apparently follows the order in which they were found when acquired for the Berg Collection; no attempt seems to have been made to rearrange the jumbled pieces. There is a 60a and an unnumbered fragment (between 47 and 48) but no 270, so that the total number of fragments...

    • Appendix: The Triumphant Toadeater A Musical Entertainment In Two Acts
      (pp. 309-329)
      Ralph Broome and Charlotte Burney