The Rival Widows, or Fair Libertine (1735) by Tiffany PotterThe Rival Widows, or Fair Libertine (1735) by Tiffany Potter

The Rival Widows, or Fair Libertine (1735)

EditorTiffany Potter

Paperback | January 1, 2013

Pricing and Purchase Info

$25.95 online 
$27.95 list price save 7%
Earn 130 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


Ships within 1-3 weeks

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


Elizabeth Cooper's The Rival Widows, or Fair Libertine provides a unique opportunity to restore to scholarly and pedagogical attention a neglected female writer and a play with broad and significant implications for studies of eighteenth-century history, culture and gender. Following the adventures of Lady Bellair, a "glowing, joyous young Widow," the storyline regenders standard expectations about desire, marriage, libertinism and sentiment. The play has not been reprinted since 1735; therefore this old-spelling edition gives scholars access to an important but neglected resource for studies of women writers and eighteenth-century theatre.

In an original and extensive introduction, Tiffany Potter presents cultural and historical information that highlights the scholarly implications of this newly available play. She offers a brief biographical sketch of the playwright; a summary of sources for specific elements of the play; an overview of the theatrical climate of the time (with particular focus on the conditions leading to the Licensing Act of 1737); a discussion of the place of women in eighteenth-century society; a summary of symbiotic cultural discourses of libertinism and sensibility in the early eighteenth century; and a discussion of the general cultural significance of Cooper's demonstration of the malleability of prescriptive gender roles. Further value is added to this edition through its appendices, which reproduce documents relating to the playwright Elizabeth Cooper and to the Licensing Act of 1737 (including the text of the Act itself).

Tiffany Potter teaches eighteenth-century British and American literature at the University of British Columbia. Her most recent book is the edited collection Women, Popular Culture, and the Eighteenth Century.
Title:The Rival Widows, or Fair Libertine (1735)Format:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 9.05 × 6 × 0.53 inPublished:January 1, 2013Publisher:University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing DivisionLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1442615451

ISBN - 13:9781442615458

Look for similar items by category:


Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Preface by the General Editors



The Rival Widows, or Fair Libertine

Appendix A: Elizabeth Cooper's Announcement of her Benefit Performance
The Grub-Street Journal 226 (25 April 1734)

Appendix B: Review of The Rival Widows
The Prompter
34 (7 March 1735)

Appendix C: Argument in Support of the Proposed Licensing Act
The Daily Gazetteer (6 and 8 June 1737)

Appendix D: Lord Chesterfield's Address to Parliament Against the Proposed Licensing Act

Appendix E: The Licensing Act of 1737

Appendix F: Elizabeth Cooper's Preface to The Muses Library (1737)



Editorial Reviews

"Tiffany Potter's erudite edition of The Rival Widows not only reclaims this valuable script for theatre history, but also provides a lucid introduction that argues persuasively for the singular importance of this play. It allows one to see the sheer complexity of the sexual and theatrical economies of the early eighteenth century." - Daniel O’Quinn, Professor, School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph