Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 3, No. 385. Tuesday, 15 December 1992.
Date: Tueday, 15 Dec 1992 14:30:47 +0000
Subject: Re: history of actresses
A couple of the responses to the request for books about Women ON the stage
have mentioned *The First English Actresses: Women and Drama 1660-1700* by
Elizabeth Howe (Cambridge U Press, 1992).
Can I quote from my copy of Sesame - The Open University's staff/student
newspaper that reviewed Dr Howe's book as part of an obituary following her
very untimely and tragic murder in July this year whilst working as a Tutor
/Counsellor for the Open University.
The book, her first, was 'a major rewrite of her PhD thesis (done part-time at
London University) ... it addresses questions relevant to women's issues in
all ages and aims to fill a gap in published research into Restoration
actresses. Beginning with a general account of the workings of Restoration
theatre, it goes on to discuss how the first women permitted to act on the
public stage after 1660 were perceived predominantly as sex objects'. 'She had
read every play extant from those 40 years (1660 - 1700): she had researched
the biographies of leading actresses; she had advanced theory after theory to
discuss the kind of parts that were allocated to them, why, for instance, they
had to go into trouser-roles, so that the male audience could look at their
legs.' 'Later chapters focus on the lives and talents of major figures such as
Elizabeth Barry and Anne Bracegirdle'.
Simon Rae - The Open University, UK.