[CONGREVE, William (1670-1729)]. OTWAY, Thomas (1652-1685). WILLIAM CONGREVE'S COLLECTION OF OTWAY'S PLAYS, comprising:
Alcibiades. A Tragedy. London: Printed for R. Bentley, 1687. Second edition. Wing O-539. -- Friendship in Fashion. A Comedy. London: Printed by E.F. for Richard Tonson, 1678. FIRST EDITION. Wing O-548. -- The Orphan or, the Unhappy-Marriage. A Tragedy. London: Printed for R. Bentley, 1691. Second edition. Wing O-553. -- The Souldiers Fortune. A Comedy. London: Printed for R. Bentley and S. Magnes, 1687. Third edition. Wing O-564. -- The Atheist: Or, The Second Part of the Souldiers Fortune. London: R. Bentley and J. Tonson, 1684. FIRST EDITION. Wing O-541. -- Venice Preserv'd, or, A Plot Discovr'd. A Tragedy. London: Printed for Jos. Hindmarsh, 1682. FIRST EDITION. Wing O-567. -- Titus and Berenice, A Tragedy. London: Printed for Richard Tonson, 1677. FIRST EDITION. Wing O-566. -- Don Carlos Prince of Spain. A Tragedy. London: Printed for Richard Tonson, 1686. Third edition. Wing O-544. -- The History and Fall of Caius Marius. A Tragedy. London: Printed for R. Bentley, 1692. Second edition. Wing O-550.
Together 9 works in one volume, 4o (219 x 170 mm). Manuscript list of plays (loose) on flyleaf. (Some worming at beginning affecting a few letters, browned and spotted.) Contemporary calf, red morocco lettering-piece (covers detached, worn); red quarter morocco velvet-lined folding case.
Provenance: WILLIAM CONGREVE (1670-1729), playwright (signature on title of first work: "Will: Congreve").
WILLIAM CONGREVE'S COLLECTION OF OTWAY'S PLAYS, INCLUDING FOUR FIRST EDITIONS. Where Otway would prove himself most adept at tragedy, Congreve is regarded as the master of the artificial comedy or comedy of manners. His displays of the narrow worlds of fashion and gallantry are among the most celebrated in English drama. The present bound collection of Otway's plays contains the majority of his work, with the exception of only a handful of plays and broadsides.
Otway had first found his way to the stage after playing the king in Aphra Behn's Forc'd Marriage in 1671. He was a failure as an actor, and began to write plays, most of which were received without success. After a period in the army, however, Otway's talent blossomed. The Orphan showed him to be a master of tragic pathos, and his tragedy Venice Preserv'd was equally well crafted. When performed again on 21 April 1682, Dryden, who had come to know Otway, contributed a prologue welcoming the Duke of York's return to London; and Otway wrote a special epilogue for the occasion, which was published as a broadside. Congreve did not begin publishing until after Otway's untimely death at the age of 33 in 1785; Congreve's first published work was his novel Incognita, 1692 and his first play, The Old Batchelor was brought out in January 1692-3 (see previous lot).