Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 30 March 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The theatre provided Victorian women with a rare opportunity to experience as actresses the exhilaration of independence and power, but at the same time conspired in reproducing repressive codes of gender in both the theatre and society. Men, at once attracted and made anxious by powerful actresses, reassured themselves with a defensive rhetoric that constructed the actress as an exceptional case having little or nothing in common with ‘real’ women like their own wives and daughters. The executive functions of theatre manager and playwright were culturally gendered as requiring ‘masculine’ qualities of mind: no plays by women of the time have broken into the canon of English drama. Nevertheless the considerable achievements of Victorian women like Elizabeth Robins deserve our attention—women who not only wrote and produced plays, but sought to revolutionize the theatre by tempering its commercialism and motives of self-interest while enhancing and broadening opportunities for women.

Keywords: Victorian theatre, actress, drama, gender, power, politics, playwright, theatre managers, women, Elizabeth Robins

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.