The first scholarly edition of the complete works of Jane Cavendish, this volume presents as complete a collection as possible of works and historical documents pertaining to a particularly compelling figure from the English Civil War. These include two manuscript poem and play collections, family letters to and from Jane, dating from after the Civil War years, and important estate papers. Jane Cavendish and her nearest sister, Elizabeth Brackley, are the only known collaborative female dramatists of the early modern period, and the co-composers of the first extant stage comedy by women in English. Most of Jane's extant verse and dramatic works were composed when the fighting of the English Civil War was at its most intense. Her works are, therefore, particularly valuable to both literary and historical researchers of the period because they simultaneously play with established literary conventions and convey much first-hand information about the conditions of aristocratic life during and immediately after the seventeenth-century national meltdown. The introduction offers as comprehensive a biography of Jane Cavendish as possible, focusing primarily on Jane's childhood, education, and conduct during the Civil War, as well as her married life after the war years. Of particular interest among the documents that follow is an account-book including entries from Jane's teenage years as well as her early married life; it portrays vividly what a young lady of her status owned in terms of clothes and jewels, as well as what a newly married woman had to acquire upon setting up a new household.
Table of Contents
Prose, Poems, Plays, Letters
Appendix: Jane Cavendish’s Account-Book and Receipts
Alexandra G. Bennett is a scholar, actor, dramaturg, and playwright, who works with plays in multiple capacities for performance. She has edited Margaret Cavendish’s plays Bell in Campo and The Sociable Companions for Broadview Press, and is the author of numerous articles on the Cavendish family. She currently teaches at Northern Illinois University.
"Bennett’s edition of Jane Cavendish will prove to be an indispensable resource and guide for both scholars producing new research on Cavendish’s writings and students encountering her work for the first time. The extensive archival research and the sound scholarship on which the edition is based will maintain its status as the definitive edition of Jane Cavendish’s works for the foreseeable future." - Mihoko Suzuki, University of Miami