George Villiers, Second Duke of Buckingham (1628-1687) was one of the most scandalous and controversial figures of the Restoration period. He was the principal author of The Rehearsal (1671), an enormously successful burlesque play that ridiculed John Dryden and the rhymed heroic drama. Historians remember Buckingham as an opponent who helped topple Clarendon from power in 1667, as a member of the "Cabal" government in the early 1670s, and as an ally of the Earl of Shaftesbury in the political crisis of 1678-1683. The duke was prominent among the "court wits" (Rochester, Etherege, Sedley, Dorset, Wycherley, and their circle); he was closely associated with such writers as Butler and Cowley; he was a conspicuous champion of religious toleration and a friend of William Penn. No edition of Buckingham has been published since 1775, partly because his work presents horrendous attribution problems. He was (probably) adapter or co-author of six plays (two of them vastly successful for more than a century) including one in French that appears here in English for the first time. He is also associated with nine topical pieces (variously political, religious, and satiric) and some twenty poems of wildly varying type. The "Buckingham" commonplace book has previously been published only in fragmentary form. Almost all of these works present major difficulties in both attribution and annotation, here seriously addressed for the first time. This edition is a companion venture to Harold Love's important edition of Rochester (OUP, 1999).
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Robert D. Hume is Evan Pugh Professor of English Literature at Penn State University. He is author, co-author, or editor of fourteen books and more than 125 articles, mostly in the realms of drama, theatre, and historical research. His books for OUP include The Development of English Drama in the Late Seventeenth Century (1976), Henry Fielding and the London Theatre (1988), and Reconstructing Contexts: The Aims and Principles of Archaeo-Historicism (1999). Harold Love is Professor Emeritus at Monash University. His numerous books and articles range in subject from attribution and textual theory to the history of opera in Australia. His books for OUP include The Plays of Thomas Southerne (edited with Robert Jordan, 1988), Scribal Publication in Seventeenth-Century England (1993), The Poems of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1999), and Clandestine Satire in England, 1660-1702 (2004).
This far ranging, comprehensive edition is important in several respects, but chiefly because it offers a miscellany of Restoration plays, poems and squibs which, when read in sequence, say far more about the culture which produced them than about the outrageous court wit associated with them. * Noam Reisner, The Years Work in English Studies * an extraordinary accomplishment * Peter Holland, Times Literary Supplement *
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