Victorian women were exhilarated by the authoritative voice and the professional opportunity that, uniquely, the theatre offered them. Victorian men, anxious to preserve their dominance in this as in every other sphere of life, sought to limit the theatre as being distinctively, irrevocably masculine. Actresses were represented as inhuman monstrosities, not women at all. Furthermore, the executive functions of theatre-manager and playwright were carefully defined as requiring supposedly masculine qualities of mind and personality. A woman playwright came to be seen as an impossibility, although their number actually increased towards the close of the nineteenth century. In this book, Kerry Powell chronicles the development of women's participation in the theatre as playwrights, actresses and managers and explores the making of the Victorian actress, gender and playwriting of the period, and the contributions these made to developments in the following century.
'... a vivid account of some of the ways in which women were placed, and placed themselves, in the Victorian theatre.' Studies in Theatre Production 'Powell presents his discussion lucidly, and illustrates it with a wide range of quotations from numerous theatre novels of the period, as well as from the letters and memoirs of those engaged in creating and sometimes trying to change this theatre ... well worth reading and pondering.' New Theatre Quarterly