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Elizabeth B. Bentley, ed., George Cumberland, The Emigrants or A Trip to the Ohio, a Theatrical Farce (1817)

James Rovira

Elizabeth B. Bentley’s edition of George Cumberland’s The Emigrants, or, A Trip to the Ohio makes available for the first time this previously unpublished and unperformed play by one of William Blake’s closest associates. Bentley painstakingly edited and transcribed this play, currently existing only in a single fair copy held in special collections at Victoria University (Toronto); the book provides a photographic reproduction of the manuscript following her transcription. Editorial apparatus includes “Characters in the Dramatis Personae,” “The Date of the Farce,” notes on the manuscript and its transcription, descriptions of scene designations and stage directions, and explanations of speech headings, punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and corrected misspellings, all of which are well supported by footnotes. To these Bentley adds an extensive bibliography and an index of names along with two appendices, one listing her addition of parentheses when necessary and the other listing further editorial interventions in Cumberland’s punctuation. Angus Whitehead’s preface locates Cumberland’s play in respect to its antecedents in British drama, while Bentley’s introductory biography contextualizes it within Cumberland’s relationship to the theater and his sources.

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