Although children's plays of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are rarely anthologized or even mentioned in reference books or histories of theatre, theatre historian and playwright Jonathan Levy found an embarrassment of riches when he set about developing this collection. Applying several criteria, which are noted in his preface, he found himself especially captivated by plays presenting scenes of real life and in which the dialogue sounds like the real talk of boys and girls of the period. Most of the plays remain interesting as plays to be read and perhaps produced, not just as historical curiosities. Included are plays representative of five major genres, which Levy identifies in his analytical introduction: Dramatic Proverbs and other moral tales; History Plays, including sacred and secular history; Sentimental Comedies; Fairy Tales and Eastern Tales; and Familiar Dialogues. Included among the playwrights are Charles Stearns (1753-1826), a Harvard graduate and tutor and prominent minister, and Maria Edgeworth (1767-1849), an English writer known also for her Irish novels for adults and her writings on education. Each of the ten plays is prefaced by a biographical sketch on the playwright and critical notes on the play. Illustrations from some of the original publications are reprinted.
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