London: 1731. First edition. Woodcut folding frontispiece of Anne Oldfield after portraits by Godfrey Kneller and J. Richardson; woodcut headpieces, vignettes, and initial letters. Binding extremities lightly rubbed with slight wear to corners. Very minor spotting to boards. Front joint starting to crack, but sound. Intermittent slight foxing. A near fine, unrestored copy in its original binding. Contemporary calf ruled in gilt. Octavo. , iv, v, [1, blank], xi, [1, blank], 212, 21 pp. Item #16405
increasing quality of her roles and the income she earned from them suggest that she established herself quickly within Drury’s company. She acted in many plays, including Hampstead Heath and Farquhar’s The Recruiting Officer. In Faithful Memoirs, Curll tells a story of a contest between Oldfield and Anne Bracegirdle, both cast in the title role of Betterton’s The Amorous Widow; allegedly the town judged Oldfield as having given the better performance, though it is not clear whether this truly happened or not. Her overall popularity is evident, given the two biographic works that were hurriedly printed within a year of her death, the brief, anonymous Authentick Memoirs and Curll’s biography.
Edmund Curll (1683?-1747) was a bookseller, publisher of various materials, including pornography, and a seller of patent medicines. He often published the works of authors without their consent, including the writings of Pope and Swift. Pope was so irate over what Curll had done that he poisoned the latter’s drink at a tavern, though Curll survived. Curll also had a reputation for writing rushed biographies of questionable quality that contained inaccurate information. He would often solicit the public for memories, speeches, or letters pertaining to the subject of his biography.