chapter
Fops
Pages 7

Vain and preoccupied as they were with fashion and self-presentation, seventeenth-and eighteenth-century dandies, known at the time as fops, provide significant insight into the now familiar association between effeminacy and homosexuality. Foppish characters appear in Roman and medieval texts and later become targets of disparagement for Renaissance satirists such as John Marston and Michael Drayton. Fops (at times known as beaus), however, really come into their own on the Restoration English stage in comedies such as George Etherege’s Man of Mode; or, Sir Fopling Flutter (1676); Aphra Behn’s The Town Fop; or, Sir Timothy Tawdrey (1676); John Crowne’s Sir Courtly Nice; or, It Cannot Be (1685); Colly Gibber’s Love’s Last Shift; or, the Fool in Fashion (16951696) and The Careless Husband (1704); and John Vanbrugh’s The Relapse (1696). In these texts, fops are not unsympathetically characterized by polished manners, social nobility, verbal ingenuity, cynicism, monomania, sartorial extravagance, and Francophilia. Often, these fellows’ penchant for epigrammatic speech fore-shadows Wildean wit. In Love’s Last Shift, for in

Jack Megoot, the fop in Benjamin Hoadley’s play The Suspicious Husband. Courtesy University of Waterloo Library.