Woman's Masterpiece, The

Anon. (1653)

Historical Records

Entered on Marriott's List (1653):

The Womans Master Peice

Theatrical Provenance


Probable Genre(s)

Unknown (but see "For what it's worth")

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

None known

References to the Play

None known

Critical Commentary

"The only evidence for the existence of a play of this name is Marriott's entry of the play in the Stationers' Register" (Bentley, 5.1447).

Harbage ("Elizabethan-Restoration Palimpsest", 309), speculates that the play could have been by Brome, as the title sounds not unlike his, and that it could have been a basis for The Wild Gallant or The Mistaken Husband, Dryden plays which Harbage sees as possibly founded on lost Brome plays.

For What It's Worth

Harbage's speculations are, regrettably, wishful thinking.

"Masterpiece" presumably in the sense of OED, n. 1b: "A person's greatest achievement; an action exhibiting masterly ability". Cf. the following quotation from Thomas D'Urfey:

Intrigue's her Masterpiece; and all may see,
A Woman's Wit's best in extremity.---
(D'Urfey, A Fond Husband, 47).

Misogynistic sentiments such as these might be grounds for seeing The Woman's Masterpiece as likely a comedy of intrigue. This is certainly the case with the anonymous The Wit of a Woman (1604), an extant comedy with a similar form of title which includes a good deal of female plotting.

The Woman's Masterpiece is also one of a group of lost plays with "The woman's..." as the first element of the name.

For discussion of Marriott's list, follow this link: Marriott's List (1653)

Works Cited

D'Urfey, Thomas. A Fond Husband. London: T. N., 1677.
Harbage, Alfred. 'Elizabethan-Restoration Palimpsest'. Modern Language Review 35 (1940): 287-319.

Site created and maintained by Matthew Steggle, Sheffield Hallam University; updated 11 April 2010.