Closing scenes: the ageing actress
in Victorian touring actresses
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This chapter analyses issues relating to ageing, beginning with the professional effect of physical changes to the actress’s body. Statistics demonstrating the availability and limited nature of the repertoire of dramatic roles deemed suitable for older women support a wider examination of how age impacted working prospects and are presented in the context of contemporary gerontological discourse. Examination of the consequences of retiring from the stage, either voluntarily or through ill health, reveals a wide income disparity. Some women were able to assume a comfortable retirement, but the less fortunate were forced to adopt alternative income-generating activity, such as teaching, or to access the profession’s various charitable funds to offset poverty. The chapter concludes with an assessment of the legacy of the Victorian actress and the relevance of her experience to her twenty-first century counterparts.

Victorian touring actresses

Crossing boundaries and negotiating the cultural landscape

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