Friday, September 21, 2018

The comedy of Lady Mary Wroth, written 400 years ago, was finally performed in public

It took 400 years, but the play “Love’s Victory” by Lady Mary Wroth is finally performed. It is one of the oldest comedies in existence that was written by a woman. The comedy in five acts deals with love and betrayal.

Lady Mary Wroth is a member of a famous literary family. Her father, Robert Sidney, was a poet as well as a statesman. Mary was highly educated and the first woman to get literary recognition for her novel “The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania” written in 1621. She was also a recognized poet.

Mary wrote “Love’s victory” in 1617 and it was intended to be read or performed in closed circles. At that time, it was unimaginable that any play written by a woman, even if she was an aristocrat, would be performed played female characters. This only changed under King Charles II.

There were two performance of the comedy that took place in Penshurst Place, an estate n Kent owned by Lady Mary’s descendants. Penshurt use to be a hunting lodge of King Henry VIII. The fact that her play was finally performed, is due to the efforts of Alison Findlay, a professor of English Literature at Lancaster University. Findlay had been specializing in literary works of Shakespeare’s female contemporaries for the last 25 years. For a long time, the play was considered to have been lost.

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