Female playwrights had better odds of being produced in eighteenth century London than they do in today’s United States.

As reported in “The glass curtain,” a San Diego Union-Tribune article by Anne Marie Welsh, theatre historian Melinda C. Finberg determined that “in 1779 London, nearly half the new plays staged were penned by women; in 1979 New York, just two of the 50 new plays produced on Broadway were. At off-Broadway and regional theaters, the lopsided score was this: female playwrights, 7 percent; male, 93 percent.”

Popular female playwrights in eighteenth-century England included Delariviere Manley (1663-1724), Susannah Centlivre (c. 1670-1723), Elizabeth Inchbald (1753-1821), and Hannah Cowley (1743-1809). Centlivre’s The Busybody remained steadily in production into the twentieth century; both men and women appeared in the title role of Marplot, the busybody.

Theatre Unbound included Elizabeth Inchbald’s short play, “The Widow’s Vow,” in Girl’s Got Pluck, our anthology of work by early women playwrights, in 2005.

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