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The Stage Career of Cicely Hamilton (1895–1914)


Seán Moran

Drawing on recently released or previously neglected archive material, this book is the first dedicated to the stage career of Cicely Hamilton (1872–1952). Best known for her work with the women’s suffrage movement, Hamilton was at the same time deeply committed to the commercial stage as an actress, dramatist and activist. The book draws extensively on Hamilton’s own recollections as well as those of her close associates, supplemented by contemporary press reviews and articles, and concludes with a chronology of the productions in which she performed as a touring actress based on confirmed dates and venues.

This book «(…) is a fascinating and fantastic resource for current and future scholars of Hamilton’s work, as well as those interested in the wider framework of (…) the theatre industry of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.»

Dr. Naomi Paxton (School of Advanced Study, University of London)

«With its documentation and assessment of Hamilton's touring career, (…) this well written and meticulously researched study provides an original contribution to theatre, dramatic, and reception history.»

Prof. Dr. Rudolf Weiss (University of Vienna)

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Chapter Three. Author on the West End Stage


Chapter ThreeAuthor on the West End Stage

Hamilton’s first major success as a dramatist, Diana of Dobson’s (1908), occurred at a time when the theatre was accepting the need for more substantial and challenging parts for women, enabling her to play roles which demonstrated her versatility and to write parts which extended far beyond the stereotypes with which she had served her apprenticeship.

As stated in Chapter One, Hamilton’s final role as a touring actress was George Mannville Fenn and James Henry Darnley’s The Barrister in 1906. Apart from being the end of a decade of travel, this also marked a watershed in that it toured with her own The Traveller Returns as a curtain-raiser. Contemporary reviews prove that she was an actress of some considerable talent, even if her choice of roles may have at times been unsound from a purely professional viewpoint, and her choice of subject matter gives the impression that as an author she occasionally seemed unconcerned by commercial success. Her general lack of faith in her own abilities as a writer are explained clearly in Life Errant, where she states that she did not return to works once written, for fear that instead of editing them, she would be more likely to burn them. This is more a question of irresolution than modesty, brought about partially, she admits, by her adverse experience over the sale of Diana of Dobson’s but also through a misplaced conviction as she read the final draft...

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