Critical Edition of the Jealous Wife and Polly Honeycombe by George Colman the Elder (1732-1794)

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These plays by George Colman are two of the best from the mid-18th century, of very high quality and extremely funny. The Jealous Wife was the first work on the English stage to have been based (in part) on Fielding's novel Tom Jones, and the main character was one of David Garrick's most famous roles. Polly Honeycombe is a direct satire on the sentimental novel (and novel readers) of the day, and the title-character seems to be the prototype for Sheridan's character of Lydia Languish in The Rivals. The Jealous Wife has appeared only in an out-of-print anthology which uses an inferior copy-text from which many racy lines have been excised. This edition is based on the pithier first edition which has never been reprinted in this century. Polly Honeycombe, too, has never been reprinted in this century.
This critical edition contains an introductory essay evaluating these plays in terms of both literary history and their own merits as lively works for the stage. At the same time, this essay offers a re-evaluation of mid-18th century comedy in general, emphasizing that the anti-sentiment movement began nearly twenty years earlier than is generally supposed.
It includes the complete text of each play, accompanied by explanatory notes glossing obsolete or dialectal words and phrases, and listing only important substantive variants among the authoritative early editions. Also contains appendices for each play giving brief but thorough essays on authorship, sources, stage history, textual history, and music to one song.

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