Image of Frances Burney, 1782 (painted by Edward Francesco Burney) The Burney Centre at McGill University
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The Witlings and The Woman Hater

The Witlings and The Woman-Hater
By Frances Burney
Edited by Peter Sabor and Geoffrey Sill
Broadview Press, 2002



From the back-cover:

This Broadview Edition pairs two of Frances Burney's linked comedies. They both present the character of Lady Smatter, a "femme savante" whose lineage may be traced back to Molière; they both centre on the misfortuntes of the "elle" figure, the dispossessed heiress and wife who appears frequently in Burney's fiction; and they both criticize a culture of misogyny that breeds suspicion and resentment. The Witlings, lighter and more comic, derives from late seventeenth-century conventions; The Woman-Hater, more melodramatic, both expresses and warns against the excessive sensibility of romanticism. Together, these two plays constitute a miniature history of English drama from the Restoration to the French Revolution and beyond.

This edition contains a valuable selection of appendices, including: Burney's "Epilogue to Gerilda"; letters and diary entries; contemporary writings on comedy; and Buney's cast-list for The Woman-Hater.



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