Classical Female Playwrights

This is in no way a complete, or finished. If you have any additions to this list (please, only classical writers, no modern writers) contact me – I would love to add her!

Playwright’s Name Birth and Death Plays
Elizabeth Cary, Lady Falkland 1585–1639 The mirror of the world, a translation of Abraham Ortelius’s Le mirroir du monde (1598)

The Tragedy of Mariam, the Fair Queen of Jewry (pub. 1613)

Reply of the most Illustrious Cardinal of Perron (1630)

The History of the Life, Reign and Death of Edward II, or The History of the most Unfortunate Prince, King Edward II (pub. 1680)

Lady Jane Cavendish and Lady Elizabeth Brackley ? The Concealed Fantasyes
Margaret Cavendish, Dutchess of Newcastle 1623 – 15 December 1673 Two volumes of Cavendish’s dramatic works were printed. Plays (1662), printed by A. Warren (London) includes the following:Loves Adventures

The Several Wits

Youths Glory, and Deaths Banquet

The Lady Contemplation

Wits Cabal

The Unnatural Tragedy

The Public Wooing

The Matrimonial Trouble

Nature’s Three Daughters, Beauty, Love and Wit

The Religious

The Comical Hash

Bell in Campo

A Comedy of the Apocryphal Ladies

The Female Academy

Plays, Never Before Printed (1668) was published by Anne Maxwell (London) and contains:

The Sociable Companions, or the Female Wits

The Presence

Scenes (edited from The Presence)

The Bridals

The Convent of Pleasure

A Piece of a Play

Katherine Philips ? *noted for an English verse translation of French Pierre Corneille’s “Pompee” – first play written/translated by a woman to be professionally produced – at Smock Alley Theatre, 1663
Aphra Behn 14 December 1640? – 16 April 1689 The Forc’d Marriage (1670)

The Amorous Prince (1671)

The Dutch Lover (1673)

Abdelazer (1676)

The Town Fop (1676)

The Rover, Part 1 (1677) and Part 2 (1681)

Sir Patient Fancy (1678)

The Feigned Courtesans (1679)

The Young King (1679)

The False Count (1681)

The Roundheads (1681)

The City Heiress (1682)

Like Father, Like Son (1682)

Prologue and Epilogue to Romulus and Hersilia, or The Sabine War (November 1682)

The Lucky Chance (1686) with composer John Blow

The Emperor of the Moon (1687)

Elizabeth Polwheele ca. 1651–ca. 1691 “Elysium (lost)

The Faithful Virgins (ca. 1670; manuscript)

The Frolicks, or, The Lawyer Cheated (1671)

*Polwheele was the first woman to be professionally produced in London

Frances Boothby floruit 1669–1670 Marcelia, or, The Treacherous Friend (published 1670)
Delarivier Manley 1663 or c. 1670 – 24 July 1724 The Lost Lover or The Jealous Husband (1696), a comedy

The Royal Mischief (1696), a tragedy

Almyna, or the Arabian Vow (1707), a tragedy

Secret Memoirs and Manners of Several Persons of Quality of Both Sexes, from the new Atlantis, an island in the Mediterranean (1709), a satire in which great liberties were taken with Whig notables

The Adventures of Rivella, or the History of the Author of The New Atalantis (1714)

Mary Pix 1666 – 17 May 1709 Ibrahim, the Thirteenth Emperor of the Turks (1696)

The Spanish Wives (1696)

The Innocent Mistress (1697)

The Deceiver Deceived (1697)

Queen Catharine; or, The Ruines of Love (1698)

The False Friend; or, the Fate of Disobedience (1699)

The Beau Defeated; or, the Lucky Younger Brother (1700)

The Double Distress (1701)

The Czar of Muscovy (1701), attributed to Pix although not published in her name

The Different Widows; or, Intrigue All-A-Mode (1703), attributed to Pix

Zelmane; or, the Corinthian Queen (1705), attributed to Pix (though some scholars still debate this attribution)

The Conquest of Spain (1705), attributed to Pix

The Adventures in Madrid (1706) attributed to Pix.

Susanna Centlivre (nee Freeman) c. 1667 to 1670 – 1 December 1723 The Perjur’d Husband; or, The Adventures of Venice (1700)

The Beau’s Duel; or, A Soldier for the Ladies (1702)

The Stolen Heiress; or, the Salamanca Doctor Outplotted (1702; published 1703)

Love’s Contrivance; or, Le Médecin Malgré Lui (1703)

The Gamester (1705)

The Basset Table (1705)

Love at a Venture (1706)

The Platonic Lady (1706)

The Busie Body (1709)

The Man’s Bewitched; or, the Devil to Do About Her (1709)

A Bickerstaff’s Burying; or, Work for the Upholders (1710)

Marplot; or, the Second Part of The Busie Body (1710; published 1711)

The Perplex’d Lovers (1712)

The Wonder: A Woman Keeps a Secret (1714)

A Gotham Election (1715, never produced)

A Wife Well Managed (1715; produced 1724)

The Cruel Gift (1716; published 1717)

A Bold Stroke for a Wife (1718)

The Artifice (1722)

Mary Davys 1674–1732 The Northern Heiress, or, The Humours of York (1715)

The Self-Rival (Works, 1725)

Catherine Trotter 16 August 1674? – 11 May 1749 Agnes de Castro, London, Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, December 1695 or 27–31 1696.

Fatal Friendship, London, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, circa late May or early June 1698.

Love at a Loss, or, Most Votes Carry It (later rewritten as The Honourable Deceiver; or, All Right at the Last), London, Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, 23 November 1700.

The Unhappy Penitent, London, Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, 4 February 1701.

The Revolution of Sweden, London, Queen’s Theatre, 11 February 1706.

Jane Wiseman c. 1682–1717 Antiochus the Great, or, The Fatal Relapse
Eliza Haywood c. 1693 – 25 February 1756 The Fair Captive

Frederick, Duke of Brunswick-Lunenburgh

The Opera of Operas (adaptation of Fielding’s Tragedy of Tragedies (with music by J. F. Lampe and Thomas Arne) in 1733)

Catherine “Kitty” Clive (nee Raftor) 5 November 1711 – 6 December 1785 The Rehearsal, or Boys in Petticoats (1750)

Every Woman in her Humour (1760)

Sketches of a Fine Lady’s Return from a Rout (1763)

Charlotte Lennox (nee Ramsay) c. 1730 – 4 January 1804 Philander (1758)

The Sister (1762)

Old City Manners (1775)

Frances Sheridan (née Chamberlaine) 1724 – 26 September 1766 The Discovery (1763)

The Dupe (1764)

A Trip to Bath (1765)

Elizabeth Griffith 1727 – 5 January 1793 The Platonic Wife (1765)

The Double Mistake (1766, though some scholarship questions her authorship of this text)

The School for Rakes (1769, an adaption of Beaumarchais’s Eugénie)

A Wife in the Right (1772, also known as Patience the Best Remedy)

The Times (1779)

Dorothea Celesia bap. 1738, died 1790 Almida
Hannah Cowley 14 March 1743 – 11 March 1809 She wrote many novels and plays, but major works include:

The Runaway (1776)

Who’s the Dupe? (1779)

Albina (1779)

The Belle’s Stratagem (1780)

A Bold Stroke for a Husband (1783)

Hannah More 2 February 1745 – 7 September 1833 The Search after Happiness

The Inflexible Captive

Percy

The Fatal Falsehood

Charlotte Turner Smith 4 May 1749 – 28 October 1806 What Is She?
Elizabeth Craven (née Lady Elizabeth Berkeley) 17 December 1750 – 13 January 1828 The Sleep-Walker (trans. of Pont de Vile’s comedy La somnambule, 1778)

Modern Anecdotes of the Ancient Family of the Kinkvervankotsdarsprakengotchderns (satire, 1779)

The Miniature Picture (play, 1781)

A Journey through the Crimea to Constantinople (travel writing, 1789)

The Georgian Princess (produced 1798; published 1799). Ed. with an introduction by John Franceschina. British Women Playwrights around 1800.

Letters from the Right Honorable Lady Craven, to his serene highness the margrave of Anspach, during her travels through France, Germany, and Russia in 1785 and 1786 (travel writing, 1814)

Memoirs (1826)

Sophia Lee 1750 – 13 March 1824 The Chapter of Accidents (opera based on Denis Diderot’s Le père de famille)

Almeyda, Queen of Grenada (1796)

Frances Burney 13 June 1752 – 6 January 1840 The Witlings

Love and Fashion

A Busy Day

The Woman Hater

Elizabeth Inchbald (née Simpson) 1753–1821 Mogul Tale; or, The Descent of the Balloon (1784)

Appearance is against Them (1785)

I’ll Tell you What (1785)

The Widow’s Vow (1786)

The Midnight Hour (1787)

Such Things Are (1787)

All on a Summer’s Day (1787)

Animal Magnetism (1788?)

The Child of Nature (1788)

The Married Man (1789)

Next Door Neighbours (1791)

Everyone has his Fault (1793)

To Marry, or not to Marry (1793)

The Wedding Day (1794)

Wives as They Were and Maids as They Are (1797)

Lovers’ Vows (1798)

The Wise Man of the East (1799)

The Massacre (1792) (not performed)

A Case of Conscience (published 1833)

The Ancient Law (not performed)

The Hue and Cry (unpublished)

Young Men and Old Women (Lovers No Conjurers) (adaptation of Le Méchant; unpublished)

Ann Yearsley (née Cromartie) 1753–1806 Earl Godwin: An Historical Play (performed 1789; printed 1791)
Hannah Brand 1754–1821 Huniades, or, The siege of Belgrave

Agmunda

The conflict, or, Love, honour, and pride a heroic comedy

Adelinda, a comedy

Harriet Lee 1757 – 1 August 1851 The New Peerage, or our Eyes may deceive us

The Mysterious Marriage, or the Heirship of Rosalva

Mary Robinson (née Darby) 27 November 1757? – 26 December 1800 The Lucky Escape, A Comic Opera (Drury Lane, 1778)

Nobody: A Comedy in Two Acts (Drury Lane, 1794)

The Sicilian Lover: A Tragedy in Five Acts (never performed)

Mariana Starke 1761/2-1838 The British Orphan (unpublished; produced privately in 1791)

The Sword of Peace; or, a Voyage of Love (produced in London in 1788; Etext)

The Widow of Malabar. A tragedy in three acts (adaptation from La Veuve de Malabar by Le Mierre; produced in London in 1790)

The Tournament, a tragedy; imitated from the celebrated German drama, entitled Agnes Bernauer (produced in 1800)

Joanna Baillie 11 September 1762 – 23 February 1851 Arnold

Rayner

Plays on the Passions

De Monfort

Henriquez

The Separation

The Election

Ethwald

The Second Marriage

Constantine Paleologus

The Country Inn

Family Legend

Orra

The Dream

The Siege

The Beacon

Constantine and Valeria

Barbarina Brand, Lady Dacre (née Ogle) 1768–1854 Gonzalvo of Cordova (1810, based on de Florian’s Gonzalve de Cordone [1791])

Pedarias, a Tragic Drama (1811, based on Marmontel’s Les Incas)

Ina, a tragedy in five acts (produced at Drury Lane in 1815 under Sheridan; printed the same year)

Xarifa (drama)

Frances Burney 1776–1828 Fitzormond, or, Cherished Resentment (1818)

Malek Adhel, the Champion of the Crescent (1818)

Jane Porter 17 January 1776 – 24 May 1850 Switzerland
Jane M. Scott 1779–1839 British theatre manager, performer, and playwright.

With her father, John Scott (1752–1838), Jane developed the Sans Pareil Theatre (later named the Adelphi), where they offered music and light shows. They gathered a theatrical company and by 1809 the theatre was licensed for musical entertainments, pantomime, and burletta.

Scott wrote more than fifty stage pieces in an array of genres: melodramas, pantomimes, farces, comic operettas, historical dramas, and adaptations, as well as translations.

The Sans Pareil was significant in the move towards “free” theatre and away from the monopolies that dominated licensed theatre at the time. Jacky Bratton credits Scott’s role in London theatre: “She had her finger on the pulse of a new world of entertainment for all, and her management of the theatre she created is important for its responsive and intelligent reading of the new audiences and the provision of exciting work for them to enjoy.”

Scott retired in 1819 and married John Davies Middleton (1790–1867). She lived in Surrey until her death, in 1839, aged 59 or 60, from breast cancer.

Mary Russell Mitford 16 December 1787 – 10 January 1855 1823: Julian: A tragedy (play)

1826: Foscari: A tragedy (play)

1828: Rienzi: A tragedy (play)

1834: Charles the First: An historical tragedy (play)

Catherine Crowe (née Stevens) 1803-1876 Aristodemus (1838)

The Cruel Kindness (1853)

Elizabeth Polack 1830’s Alberti; or The Mines of Idria (no copy known to exist)

Angeline; or The Golden Chain (no copy known to exist)

Woman’s Revenge (1832; attributed by some sources to John Howard Payne)

Esther, the Royal Jewess; or The Death of Haman (1835)

St. Clair of the Isles; or The Outlaw of Barra (1838)

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