Home » The First English Actresses: Women and Drama 1660-1700 by Elizabeth Howe
The First English Actresses: Women and Drama 1660-1700 Elizabeth Howe

The First English Actresses: Women and Drama 1660-1700

Elizabeth Howe

Published June 4th 1992
ISBN : 9780521422109
Paperback
244 pages
Enter the sum

 About the Book 

Before the Restoration of Charles II there were no professional actresses on the English stage, and female roles had almost always been played by men. This book describes how and why women were permitted to act on the public stage after 1660, and theMoreBefore the Restoration of Charles II there were no professional actresses on the English stage, and female roles had almost always been played by men. This book describes how and why women were permitted to act on the public stage after 1660, and the consequences of their arrival for the drama of the period. There is a surprising lack of published research into Restoration actresses. Elizabeth Howe not only supplies important new facts about the women and their drama, but also opens up a fascinating subject to non-specialists. Beginning with a general account of the workings of Restoration theatre, she goes on to explain the advent of the actresses and how they were treated by theatre companies, theatre audiences and society in general. Perceived predominantly as sex objects, the actresses sexuality was variously exploited in ways that had important consequences for drama. The remainder of the book concerns the lives and talents of the major figures, in particular Elizabeth Barry and Anne Bracegirdle, showing how their popularity, dramatic skill and public image frequently dictated the kinds of plays written for them. The book addresses questions that are relevant to womens issues in every period: how far did the advent of real women players alter dramatic portrayals of women? Did this encourage more or less equality between the sexes? Although in one sense merely playthings for a small male elite, the pioneering actresses also represent a new female voice in society and a new place in discourse.