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Shakespeare's Women and the Fin de Siècle$
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Sophie Duncan

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198790846

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198790846.001.0001

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The Lily, the Matron, and Rosalind

The Lily, the Matron, and Rosalind

(p.18) 1 The Lily, the Matron, and Rosalind
Shakespeare's Women and the Fin de Siècle

Sophie Duncan

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines how the role of Rosalind (As You Like It) underlined the self-promotional strategies of two little-studied actresses: Madge Kendal and Lillie Langtry. As well as exemplifying Kendal’s skilful deployment of her married reputation, built around her wedding-day performance as Rosalind, Kendal’s Rosalind’s evolution in the public consciousness (1869–85) demonstrates the problems of an actress’s age and sexual ‘knowingness’ in performance. The Victorian bride emerges as a liminal figure on the stage. Simultaneously, Langtry’s genesis as a performer challenged the ‘aristocracy of labour’ defined by theatrical families, while the two women’s fraught professional relationship illustrated the changing nature of theatrical celebrity.

Keywords:   Madge Kendal, Lillie Langtry, Rosalind, As You Like It, marriage, celebrity, knowledge, age, liminality, self promotion

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