Though once a favourite of no fewer than four English monarchs, Restoration playwright Thomas Durfey has long been neglected by scholars. In his own day he had a lowly reputation in the world of polite letters - before his death his plays had more or less ceased to be produced; his 'serious' poems had died long before that, and even his songs were soon thought of as common property or 'folk' songs. In this new study, author John McVeagh re-examines Durfey's literary output, finding merit and interest where it has long been presumed that none existed, and restoring Durfey to his proper place in late 17th- and early 18th-century literature. Durfey's creative lifetime spanned the entire Restoration period and continued into and beyond the reign of Queen Anne. McVeagh's book studies his continuing ability to adapt to shifts in taste, fashion and personnel in the world of the theatre. It examines in detail his numerous experiments in new kinds of dramatic writing, both responding to and influencing the conditions of theatrical and artistic production. Among the topics covered are Durfey's attempts to feminize Restoration comedy, his political satires in drama in the late Stuart years, his anticipations of sentimental comedy, his search for a new language for lower class tragedy, and his musical-dramatic experimentations in the 1680s and 1690s, focusing particularly on his collaborative work with Matthew Locke, Samuel Ackroyde, John Eccles, Daniel and Henry Purcell and other composers. In addition, the author discusses Durfey's numerous satiric, narrative and other poems, and relates his writings to their social, political and cultural contexts. The book includes a performance record, listing the plays by performance date. The record includes such information, if known, as: where it was performed; by what company; cast list; to whom it was dedicated; a brief description of the prologue and epilogue; when it was published; what music it contained; and details of any revivals.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Theatre conditions; A fierce hero bawls; Bus’ness comical 1676-1679; Sham-plots 1680-1686; Mirth and droll 1688-1698; Sad times 1698-1709; Verses ad infinitum; Appendix: Performance record; Bibliography.
'... much can be learnt from this always judicious survey of a historically influential Å“uvre.' Modern Language Review