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Four New Plays, viz The Surprisal, Committee [etc]

Four New Plays, viz The Surprisal, Committee [etc] by HOWARD, Robert; John Dryden (1665)

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Author: HOWARD, Robert; John Dryden
Title: Four New Plays, Viz: The {Surprisal, Committee} Comedies;, The {Indian Queen, Vestal-Virgin} Tragedies - As they were Acted by His Majesties Servants at the Theatre-Royal
Year: 1665
Publisher: Henry Herringman
Place: London
Dust Jacket: No
Signed: No
Price: £450
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[pp] 12, 242 [2] Howard's first plays including his collaboration with his brother in law John Dryden in The Indian Queen and his inflammatory preface on dramatic verse. The book is bound in half brown rexine over marbled boards with new endpapers. The text is collated and complete with much toning to the paper stock and the following paper repairs and minor defects: K1, missing small blank triangle, outer corner, tail of leaf (last leaf of The Surprise); L2, small section of paper missing from tail of leaf, text unaffected; L4, long shallow triangle of paper missing from foreedge, touching a few words in margins. Substantial loss to Gg1-2 (final leaves of book) affecting about one third of the text of the Epilogue with old paper repair.

An old shelfmark 'N239' appears at the head of the title page along with a couple of early annotations to The Indian Queen which suggest the text may have been used for performance or rehearsal in the late seventeenth or eighteenth century. In Act II Scene I, next to the printed 'Enter Traxalla...' is written 'Enter' and the first word of the ensuing speech is also replicated in the margin 'See'. LAter in the play the number '10' is written against two successive lines as if counting syllables in response to Howard's preface about blank verse.

The Indian Queen was first staged in 1664 and opinion varies as to attribution of authorship either to Dryden, Howard or a combination of the two men. At all events Howard had acted as Dryden's patron until the publication of this volume but in his outspoken preface on the need to separate tragedy from comedy in playwriting he opened up a bitter personal dispute and prompted years of critical debate.

Widely held institutionally this book is scarce in commerce with no copy at auction since 1995 and before that 1976.
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