New Anatomies, The Grace of Mary Traverse, Our Country's Good, The Playmaker
Timberlake, British dramatist born of Anglo-American parents; she was educated in France and America. Her first significant play was New Anatomies (1981), about the life of the nineteenth-century explorer Isabelle Eberhardt, who managed to travel in Islamic countries by adopting male Arab dress. Her subsequent work has been variously marked by a concern for women in a male-dominated society, a belief in the power of the creative imagination, and an interest in Greek myth. It includes The Grace of Mary Traverse (1985), about an inquisitive young woman who leaves her father's house to discover the perils and pains of eighteenth-century London; Our Country's Good (1988), adapted from Thomas Keneally's novel The Playmaker, which involves convicts in a brutal Australian settlement who put on a production of Farquhar's The Recruiting Officer, The Love of the Nightingale (1989), about the rape of Philomele by Tereus and the vengeance taken by his wife Procne; and Three Birds Alighting on a Field (1991), whose characters (including one identified with Philoctetes) variously display a financial, a socially snobbish, and an authentic interest in painting, thus raising questions about the value of art itself. The Break of Day was performed in 1995. Wertenbaker has also written plays for television, and translated work by Marivaux, Anouilh, and Maeterlinck.