The Convent of Pleasure
The Convent of Pleasure (1868) is a closet drama by Margaret Cavendish. Intended for private performance rather than the stage, The Convent of Pleasure is a comedy that critiques the institution of marriage and explores the possibility of lesbian desire in a patriarchal society. Published under the author’s own name—a rare feat for a woman of her time—The Convent of Pleasure is a groundbreaking work of queer utopian literature that continues to inform and inspire artists and critics alike. “Put the case I should Marry the best of Men, if any best there be; yet would a Marry'd life have more crosses and sorrows then pleasure, freedom, or hapiness: nay Marriage to those that are virtuous is a greater restraint then a Monastery.” Tired of the ways of men, Lady Happy encourages her friends to join an experimental cloister devoted to feminine autonomy, friendship, and desire. Despite opposition from angry Monsieurs and the skeptical Madam Mediator, the woman forge a tight-knit group and seem prepared to defy the institution of marriage while pursuing romantic relationships with their fellow women. Before long, a mysterious Princess seeks entry to the convent. With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Margaret Cavendish’s The Convent of Pleasure is a classic of English literature reimagined for modern readers.