Gail Marshall

in Victorian Literature

ISBN: 9780199799558
Published online March 2011 | | DOI:

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Studies of the Victorian actress have persisted since the times of the actresses themselves, when they were regarded with a mixture of reverence and prurient curiosity. These studies have, however, changed greatly in tone and treatment since the 19th century. Due regard is now much more likely to be paid to their position as theater professionals, and recognition made of their contribution to the theaters in which they were such an essential part of productions and popular appeal. Throughout the history of Victorian actresses, we have a set of competing and often contradictory witnesses to consider: the actresses themselves, whose autobiographies were often highly tactical documents designed to obfuscate as well as strategically to reveal; contemporary reviews, often written by those with affiliations to particular managements; and pictorial records that were not without their own political and strategic responsibilities. Subsequent criticism and theater history has to find its way through this maze of information and then of course assess the ever-malleable figure of the actress through its own determining prisms.

Article.  7184 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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