THE GENTLEMAN DANCING-MASTER.
(London: Printed by J. M. for Henry Herringman and Thomas Dring, 1673). 210 x 155 mm. (8 1/4 x 6"). 2 p. l., 88 (i.e., 97),  pp. FIRST EDITION, First State (with tailpiece on O2r).
Attractive early 20th century dark blue morocco by Sangorski & Sutcliffe (stamp-signed in gilt on front turn-in), smooth spine with gilt lettering, gilt-ruled turn-ins. From the collection of noted theatrical scholar William Appleton (though without his bookplate). Wing 3744; ESTC R12858. ◆Text lightly toned, title page backed with thin paper, prologue repaired along gutter, and final page with small repair affecting a few letters, but all these expertly done and overall the contents in excellent condition, without the severe foxing and browning often found in similar works of this period. A breath of wear to front joint, spine very slightly darkened, otherwise the binding in fine condition.
This is the second of four fine comedies written by William Wycherley (1640? - 1716), considered to be among the three great practitioners of the Restoration comedy of manners (the others being Etherege and Congreve). The present work has as its principal character Hippolita, a headstrong, determined, and flirtatious young lady who disguises her lover as a dancing master in order to skirt her father's disapproval of their union. As is typical of Wycherley's comedies, bawdy humor and witty language combine to make a wickedly clever production full of misbehavior and vicious satire. According to DNB, "Wycherley's legacy was not only literary but also biographical. Posterity saw him as the type of the wicked, attractive, brilliant Restoration wit, rake, and gallant." But time and fortune were not so kind to him as the years went on; his later life was riddled with scandal, poor health, and money woes, including a stint in Fleet prison as a debtor, and a sham marriage on his deathbed designed to cheat his nephew out of an inheritance. Though the present work contains no bookplate, we know this item comes from the collection of William Appleton (1915-2014). A scholar of early English theater, Appleton taught at Columbia University for more 30 years and authored several books on the subject. (ST12849m)