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Renata Kobetts Miller, The Victorian Actress in the Novel and on the Stage

The Victorian Actress in the Novel and on the Stage

Renata Kobetts Miller

Examines representations of the actress in Victorian novels and theatres

This book analyses how Victorian novels and plays used the actress, a significant figure for the relationship between women and the public sphere, to define their own place within and among genres and in relation to audiences. Providing new understandings of how the novel and theatre developed, Miller explores how their representations shaped the position of the actress in Victorian culture with regard to her authenticity, her ability to foster sympathetic bonds, and her relationships to social class and the domestic sphere. The book traces how this cultural history led actresses to appropriate the pen themselves by becoming suffragette playwrights, thereby writing new social roles for women.

Key Features:

  • Traces the actress as a figure in social and literary struggles, and examines the interrelations between these fields as they informed each other
  • Traces a genealogy of Victorian cultural attitudes toward actresses that culminated in the centrality of the theater and actresses in the early-twentieth-century women’s suffrage movement
  • Redresses Victorian theater’s neglect in literary study, treating the theater not only as a figure in the Victorian imagination, but also as an active participant in the literary culture of its time
  • Provides new analyses of the melodramatic and realistic mechanisms through which Victorian novels and theater established authenticity and sympathy

Renata Kobetts Miller is professor of English and deputy dean of Humanities and the Arts at the City College of New York. She is the author of a book on reinterpretations of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Her work on the Victorian novel and the theater has appeared in the Oxford Handbook of Adaptation StudiesMLQ and BRANCH, among other publications.

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