Establishing a name
in Victorian touring actresses
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For an actress with ambitions of stardom on the competitive Victorian stage, establishing a recognisable name and identity was fundamental to her success in gaining and then maintaining employment. This chapter addresses issues of identity by considering how it is framed by the repertoire she adopts and how she chooses to present her own history. Career advancement in the mid-nineteenth century was linked to a stratified framework embedded in the stock company structure and divided into distinct lines of business. Analysis focuses on the progression from juvenile to leading lady and two contrasting dramatic specialisms – the burlesque actress and the ‘heavy woman’ – to reveal the implications of playing specific types of role in terms of employment opportunities and image creation. Featured cases include cross-dressed Hamlet portrayals and spurious self-fashioning.

Victorian touring actresses

Crossing boundaries and negotiating the cultural landscape


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