In eighteenth-century England, actresses were frequently dismissed as mere prostitutes trading on their sexual power rather than their talents. Yet they were, Felicity Nussbaum argues, central to the success of a newly commercial theater. Urban, recently moneyed, and thoroughly engaged with their audiences, celebrated actresses were among the first women to achieve social mobility, cultural authority, and financial independence. In fact, Nussbaum contends, the eighteenth century might well be called the "age of the actress" in the British theater, given women's influence on the dramatic repertory and, through it, on the definition of femininity. Treating individual star actresses who helped spark a cult of celebrity—especially Anne Oldfield, Susannah Cibber, Catherine Clive, Margaret Woffington, Frances Abington, and George Anne Bellamy—Rival Queens reveals the way these women animated issues of national identity, property, patronage, and fashion in the context of their dramatic performances. Actresses intentionally heightened their commercial appeal by catapulting the rivalries among themselves to center stage. They also boldly challenged in importance the actor-managers who have long dominated eighteenth-century theater history and criticism. Felicity Nussbaum combines an emphasis on the actresses themselves with close analysis of their diverse roles in works by major playwrights, including George Farquhar, Nicholas Rowe, Colley Cibber, Arthur Murphy, David Garrick, Isaac Bickerstaff, and Richard Sheridan. Hers is a comprehensive and original argument about the importance of actresses as the first modern subjects, actively shaping their public identities to make themselves into celebrated properties.
___________________________________ 'Scintillating, provocative... An elegant synthesis of royal biography and political thriller.' Daily Telegraph A Times History Book of the Year: a story which inspired the Hollywood film MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS Mary, Queen of Scots & Elizabeth I of England. Two powerful monarchs on a single island. Threatened by voices who believed no woman could govern. Surrounded by sycophants, spies and detractors. Accosted for their dominion, their favour and their bodies. Besieged by secret plots, devastating betrayals and a terrible final act. Only one queen could survive to rule all. ___________________________________ 'Brings us a fresh Mary, set in a gloriously rich context, a tragic heroine - irresistibly real and relevant... There isn't a line wasted in this taut, dramatic and utterly beguiling biography.' Charles Spencer author of Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I 'The perfect combination of scholarship and storytelling, meticulous research and emotional insight, Kate Williams brings Mary vividly to life in all her complexities and contradictions.' Kate Mosse, author of The Burning Chambers 'It takes a special kind of historian to turn an old story on its head. Eye-opening, provocative, this is the great rivalry re-imagined for the #MeToo generation.' Lucy Worsley
The riveting true story of mother-and-daughter queens Catherine de' Medici and Marguerite de Valois, whose wildly divergent personalities and turbulent relationship changed the shape of their tempestuous and dangerous century. Set in magnificent Renaissance France, this is the story of two remarkable women, a mother and daughter driven into opposition by a terrible betrayal that threatened to destroy the realm. Catherine de' Medici was a ruthless pragmatist and powerbroker who dominated the throne for thirty years. Her youngest daughter Marguerite, the glamorous "Queen Margot," was a passionate free spirit, the only adversary whom her mother could neither intimidate nor control. When Catherine forces the Catholic Marguerite to marry her Protestant cousin Henry of Navarre against her will, and then uses her opulent Parisian wedding as a means of luring his followers to their deaths, she creates not only savage conflict within France but also a potent rival within her own family. Rich in detail and vivid prose, Goldstone's narrative unfolds as a thrilling historical epic. Treacherous court politics, poisonings, international espionage, and adultery form the background to a story that includes such celebrated figures as Elizabeth I, Mary, Queen of Scots, and Nostradamus. The Rival Queens is a dangerous tale of love, betrayal, ambition, and the true nature of courage, the echoes of which still resonate.