London: Richard Wellington at the Dolphin and Crown, 1705. First edition. Later half vellum over marbled boards with paper label to spine. All edges stained red. Vellum a bit toned, particularly at corners; slight bow to front board. Bookseller's ticket of T. Connolly of Dublin to front pastedown. Measuring 160 x 210mm, with margin to foot of title trimmed close and small loss to bottom margin of A3 but with no loss to text to either. Internally unmarked with fairly uniform toning. Collating , 76: complete. Scarce institutionally and in trade, it last appeared at auction in 1948 and this is currently the only copy on the market.
A prolific playwright of the late Restoration, Mary Pix produced seven dramas bearing her name and an additional five anonymous plays between 1696-1706. As one of the earliest women in English to join the field, Pix proved to be a skilled stage-writer in her creation of original work as well as in her adaptations of classical and early modern stories. "Her comedies were generally ingeniously plotted...Her tragedies relied heavily on extravagant emotional rhetoric, well suited to actresses such as Elizabeth Barry, who played many leading roles for Pix...Although her work preserved contemporary dramatic conventions of plotting and characterization, they frequently gave stronger emphasis to the female perspective than was the norm of this period" (ODNB). In this sense, she belongs to the dramatic cohort of Aphra Behn and Susanna Centlivre, who used their platform of the stage to promote women's interests.
The Conquest of Spain was composed and performed late in Pix's career. Drawing on the material of Rowley's 16th century tragedy All's Lost by Lust, she presses the plot beyond a consideration of Moorish-European conflict to emphasize the threats women face in times of violence. "Although Pix follows Rowley's play fairly closely, she chooses to depart from it in a number of interesting points...she tells how the virtuous Jacinta is raped by the lustful King Rhoderique...how Jacinta manages to escape and reach her father's camp. She shows a violated woman leaving the domestic environment that dominated the first part of the play and entering the public domain, represented by the battlefield where Christians and Moors fight over control of the land...Unlike Rowley, Pix deploys throughout the play a series of parallels between the female body and the nation that help her construct a critique of conventional values" (Cuder-Dominguez). For Pix, the monarchy and patriarchy fail in their obligations, and she shows "them to be equally abusive and oppressive" (Cuder-Dominguez).
ESTC T31215. Near Fine (Item #3957)