Focusing on actresses in France during the early modern period, Virginia Scott examines how the stereotype of the actress has been constructed. The study then moves beyond that stereotype to detail the reality of the personal and artistic lives of women on the French stage, from the almost unknown Marie Ferré - who signed a contract for 12 livres a year in 1545 to perform the 'antiquailles de Rome or other histories, moralities, farces, and acrobatics' in the provinces - to the queens of the eighteenth-century Paris stage, whose 'adventures' have overshadowed their artistic triumphs. The book also investigates the ways in which actresses made invaluable contributions to the development of the French theatre in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and looks at the 'afterlives' of such women as Armande Béjart, Marquise Du Parc, Charlotte Desmares, Adrienne Lecouvreur, and Hippolyte Clairon in biographies, plays, and films.
• Sees beyond the myths and stereotypes so often associated with the history of the actress • The first book in English entirely devoted to actresses in the early modern period in France • Provides fascinating biographical details of individual actresses in order to prove the invaluable contributions they made to the development of the French theatre
Preface; 1. The actress and the anecdote; 2. 'So perverse was her wantonness': antitheatricalism and the actress; 3. In the beginning: 'Twelve Livres per year'; 4. 'Those diverting little ways': 1630–40; 5. 'Mademoiselle L'Étoile': 1640–1700; 6. 'Embellished by art': 1680–1720; 7. Lives and afterlives: 1700–2010; Works consulted.
'In this lively and engaging study, Virginia Scott examines the careers of actresses in France from the late sixteenth to the early eighteenth centuries, placing them firmly in their social and artistic context. Refreshingly, she eschews anecdotal evidence, thereby providing us, perhaps for the first time, with an unbiased and even-handed account of her subjects' lives and work, but which nonetheless explores the fascination these first celebrities have exercised on audiences and critics both then and since.' Professor Jan Clarke, Durham University
'This enjoyable book combines scholarship with readability and makes a very significant contribution to the field of seventeenth and eighteenth-century theatrical studies.' Restoration and Eighteenth-century Theatre Research