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Janice Norwood

This chapter considers the professional and personal consequences of the choices made by the actress in her private life, examining how aspects of her offstage conduct, sexual liaisons and marital situation impacted upon her public image, creative practice, working partnerships and family. Particular focus is given to mutual support networks provided by theatrical families in which several generations worked in the industry. The advantages and drawbacks of marriage to men working within or outside the profession are illustrated by studying the dynamics of different relationships. These are contrasted with examples of actresses who provoked scandal through divorce. The practicalities of coping with pregnancy, childcare responsibilities and family life as a touring actress are explored in relation to mid-Victorian notions about the role of women.

in Victorian touring actresses
Janice Norwood

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.

in Victorian touring actresses