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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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A British Princess

A British Princess

Ellen Terry as Imogen

(p.131) 4 A British Princess
Shakespeare's Women and the Fin de Siècle

Sophie Duncan

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Ellen Terry’s performance as Imogen (Cymbeline) at the Lyceum in 1896. It reveals Terry’s performance as Imogen as profoundly implicated in the genesis of Gothic texts including Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula (1897). Using Terry’s interpretation and reception to explore fin-de-siècle views of wifely sexuality, the young bride emerges as a particularly sexualized, little-studied figure in Victorian performance. Actresses negotiated marriage on and offstage, placing their lives, cultural profile, and roles in highly charged conversation. In particular, Terry’s performance as the married princess Imogen contributed to ideas of national character, queenship, and empire as Queen Victoria became Britain’s longest-reigning monarch on the day Terry’s reviews of Imogen were published.

Keywords:   Ellen Terry, Imogen, Dracula, fin de siècle, Gothic, Victoria, marriage, Bram Stoker, sexuality, empire

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