Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Nicholas Rowe was a playwright of some success during the first quarter of the eighteenth century in London. Rowe's importance to the theatre can be seen in his contribution to the development of strong female roles. He was part of that group of Whig writers who championed individual freedom, some rights for women, and a stronger parliament. It is my contention that Rowe was an "incipient" feminist and an innovator of theatrical practice through his use of the female protagonist. By "feminist" I mean that Rowe wrote about the plight of women in a society that afforded very few rights to women. Within the context of his milieu, Rowe had "incipient" beliefs in favor of equal rights of women on a limited scale. This study analyses Rowe's life and works in order to discover how Rowe made his decision to write strong female roles in his plays. Although he was not the first to write plays strong female roles, he appears to have been the first to have attempted to develop a genre based on the female as hero as evidenced by the unique title he used for the plays: "she-tragedy." And with the unique purpose of writing female protagonist roles, Rowe was a proto-feminist, or as I call him, an incipient feminist.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Jennifer J. Jones