Anon. (The Trial of Atticus)


Dramatic Works

The Trial of Atticus, before Justice Beau, for a Rape (1771)

The Trial of Atticus, before Justice Beau, for a Rape  (1771)

Production & Reception History

no known productions

Print & Publication History

“BOSTON: Printed and sold by ISAIAH THOMAS, near the MILL-BRIDGE, for the Author. MDCCLXXI.” [1771], 55 pp.

Genre & Structure

  • political satire, farce
  • no act or scene divisions
  • as the play is supposedly culled from an “actual” court transcript, it does not have an author, but a “compiler”
  • Prefatory material
    • dedication to Josiah Beau, Esq.
    • preface to the Reader

Gender Relevance

ridicules accusations of rape for reasons of political slander; describes forced sexual acts/advances and uses scatological humor; inscribes the female body into the legal system;

Key Words & Themes

rape, justice, political strife

Additional Information

includes an African American slave, Caesar, who is summoned to testify before court, but whose account is then dismissed—a very early instance of African American dialect in American drama; depicts a corrupt colonial justice system;


Early American Imprints, Series 1, no. 42291

Secondary Sources

Block, Sharon. Rape and Sexual Power in Early America. Williamsburg: The University of North Carolina Press, 2006. 161 ff.

Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher. A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812. New York: Vintage, 1990. 120-121.

Richardson, Gary A. American Drama From the Colonial Period Through World War I: A Critical History. New York: Twayne, 1993. 13-15.

(only brief references, no in-depth discussion available)