Consider the prologue to a 1730 production of William Hatchett’s play The Rival Father. The author Hatchett, “who ne’er before . . . [the] buskin wore,” is applauded for assuming the part of Achilles, our “Favour” solicited for this, “his fi rst Attempt.” But if Hatchett’s “hard Task” is made harder by his inexperience both on the stage and the battlefi eld (we are told the “Warrior’s Truncheon” is as unfamiliar to his hand as the “buskin” to his foot), his leading lady promises by contrast a special treat: “To play Briseis while Eliza deigns, / All will be Real, that she only feigns.”1 Eliza here is novelist and playwright Eliza Haywood, and as long as she is willing to act the part, we are told, acting will be more than just acting.