Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Cooper, Elizabeth

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COOPER, ELIZABETH (fl. 1737), compiler of ‘The Muses' Library,’ the widow of an auctioneer, applied herself to the study of the early English poets, and in 1737 published ‘The Muses' Library; or a Series of English Poetry from the Saxons to the Reign of King Charles II,’ vol. i. The preface is well written, the extracts are not injudiciously chosen, and the critical remarks appended to each extract are sensible. Mrs. Cooper was largely assisted in her undertaking by the antiquary Oldys, whose services she acknowledges in the preface. No more than vol. i. was published. The unsold copies were reissued in 1741 with a new title-page, but the book attracted little attention. Mrs. Cooper was the authoress of ‘The Rival Widows, or the Fair Libertine. A Comedy,’ 8vo, acted for nine nights at Covent Garden (the authoress taking the principal character on her benefit nights), and printed in 1735 with a dedication to the Dowager Duchess of Marlborough. She also wrote an unprinted play, ‘The Nobleman,’ acted once at the Haymarket about May 1736.

[Genest's Hist. of the Stage, iii. 461–2; Biographia Dramatica, ed. Jones, i. 148, iii. 84, 212–13; Oldys's Diary (1863); Gent. Mag. v. 138–9.]

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