The Busybody

Susanna Centlivre

Paperback

128pp

Publication date: 23 February 2022

ISBN: 9781913724672

£6.99

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The Busybody is the most popular comedy by the eighteenth-century playwright Susanna Centlivre. The play centres on two couples trying to form a relationship against the wills of their guardians, and in a battle of wits, playing with many conventions from theatre traditions across the continent, a conclusion is eventually reached.

Like her predecessor Aphra Behn, Centlivre was immensely successful in her day, drawing huge crowds to extended runs of her numerous plays, but the stabbing male pens of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries decried her work as being louche and dangerous, and her name slowly sunk into obscurity.

This edition, published with William Hazlitt’s prefatory note and extra material on Centlivre’s life and writing, seeks to highlight the dexterity with which she took on the stage.

Susanna Centlivre

Susanna Centlivre (c.1670–1723) was a wildly successful playwright, actress and poet. Her play The Busybody was an overnight success on the London stage, and remained one of the few comedies in the common repertoire besides Shakespeare’s until the end of the nineteenth century. Like her predecessor Aphra Behn, Centlivre’s work fell into obscurity for much of the twentieth century, but, thanks to the work of feminist scholars, is returning to the page and stage.