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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 Four. Actress on the West End Stage


Chapter FourActress on the West End Stage

Hamilton’s clash with suffragists in the USA over the performance of her pageant is a reminder that she approached her work both out of principle and from a simpler need to survive. This is not to say that she did not give freely of her time and energy in the suffrage cause, but without a close male relative to fall back on, she was financially responsible for her own upkeep, plus that of her paternal aunts. When in work, she was required to be in her dressing-room at the time when many suffrage meetings began, nevertheless she continued to juggle her life as a political campaigner and professional actress. Although Sheila Stowell quotes Life Errant on this point (“at the hour when meetings usually begin I had to be in my dressing-room, making up to go on the stage”), she omits Hamilton’s concluding remark “I cannot say that my enforced absence from the suffrage platform caused me any real regret” (84). Unlike the thoroughly political suffrage theatre, her professional London career had no air of controversy attached to it, nevertheless, despite her undeniable talent, she became somewhat type-cast as a middle-aged pious lady. What emerges from contemporary reviews is an actress whose skills of interpretation seem to have far outshone her confidence as an author.

1907 – Grace Griswold’s His Japanese Wife

Grace Griswold’s one-act comedy His Japanese Wife (1902) was an import from the United States. The...

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