Shakespeare's Women and the Fin de Siecle illuminates the most iconoclastic performances of Shakespeare's heroines in late Victorian theatre, through the celebrity, commentary, and wider careers of the actresses who played them. By bringing together fin-de-siecle performances of Shakespeare and contemporary Victorian drama for the first time, this book illuminates the vital ways in which fin-de-siecle Shakespeare andcontemporary Victorian theatre culture conditioned each other. Actresses' movements between Shakespeare and fin-de-sicle roles reveal the collisions and unexpected consonances between apparently independent areas of the fin-de-sicle repertory. Performances including Ellen Terry's Lady Macbeth, Madge Kendal's Rosalind, and Lillie Langtry's Cleopatra illuminate fin-de-sicle Shakespeare's lively intersections with cultural phenomena including the 'Jack the Ripper' killings, Aestheticism, the suicide craze, and therise of metropolitan department stores. If, as previous studies have shown, Shakespeare was everywhere in Victorian culture, Sophie Duncan explores the surprising ways in which late-Victorian culture, from Dracula to pornography, and from Ruskin to the suffragettes, inflected Shakespeare. Via a wealth of unpublished archival material, Duncan reveals women's creative networks at the fin de sicle, and how Shakespearean performance traditions moved between actresses via little-studied performance genealogies. At the same time, controversial new stage business made fin-de-sicle Shakespeare as much a crucible for debates over gender roles and sexuality as plays by Ibsen and Shaw. Increasingly, actresses' creative networks encompassed suffragistactivists, who took personal inspiration from star Shakespearean actresses. From a Salome-esque Juliet to a feminist Paulina, fin-de-sicle actresses created cultural legacies which Shakespeare-in-performance still negotiates today.
Shakespeare's Women and the Fin de Siecle
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