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Look Inside Women as Hamlet

Women as Hamlet
Performance and Interpretation in Theatre, Film and Fiction


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  • Date Published: July 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521117210

£ 34.99

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About the Authors
  • The first Hamlet on film was Sarah Bernhardt. Probably the first Hamlet on radio was Eve Donne. Ever since the late eighteenth century, leading actresses have demanded the right to play the role - Western drama's greatest symbol of active consciousness and conscience. Their iconoclasm, and Hamlet's alleged 'femininity', have fascinated playwrights, painters, novelists and film-makers from Eugène Delacroix and the Victorian novelist Mary Braddon to Angela Carter and Robert Lepage. Crossing national and media boundaries, this book addresses the history and the shifting iconic status of the female Hamlet in writing and performance. Many of the performers were also involved in radical politics: from Stalinist Russia to Poland under martial law, actresses made Hamlet a symbol of transformation or crisis in the body politic. On stage and film, women reinvented Hamlet from Weimar Germany to the end of the Cold War. This book aims to put their half-forgotten achievements centre-stage.

    • Includes an historical survey of the international appearance onstage of the female Hamlet from the mid-eighteenth century to today
    • Discusses the female Hamlet in relation to politics and popular culture
    • Documents diverse film genres: silent and sound, avant-garde and commercial
    Read more


    • Selected as Book of the Season by Shakespeare's Globe

    Reviews & endorsements

    'This masterly study is encyclopaedic in its coverage of the history of both theatre and film, extraordinary in the international breadth of its coverage, sophisticated in its treatment of both governmental and sexual politics, and at every point deeply thoughtful and critically engaged.' Professor Stanley Wells

    '… fascinating study … exciting book …' Professor Dr Dieter Mehl

    'Tony Howard's rich, informative and highly readable study, Women as Hamlet, is an account of the fascinating 'Shakesepearean subculture' of women who were not content to play Ophelia or Gertrude …' The Times Literary Supplement

    'This beautifully written study of women assuming the title role takes what might appear to be one single cultural phenomenon and finds a multiplicity of motives and insights resulting from 19th-century performances …' Plays International

    ' … a supremely successful achievement … an exceptionally good and timely volume. In its ambition, diversity of primary material, international range, and clear and accessible style, it will be an inspiration to scholars for many years to come.' The Review of English Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521117210
    • length: 344 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.51kg
    • contains: 20 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of illustrations
    1. Introduction: The drama of questions and the mystery of Hamlet
    Part I. The Women in Black:
    2. Playing Hamlet, writing the self
    3. 'Is this womanly?'
    4. Virile spirits: Sarah Bernhardt and her inheritance
    Part II. Case Studies: Hamlet, the Actress and the Political Stage:
    5. 'I am whom I play': Asta Nielsen
    6. 'Why are you looking at me like that?': Zinaida Raikh
    7. Behind the arras, through the Wall: Poland 1989
    8. Hamlet from the margins: Spain, Turkey, Ireland
    Part III. Repression and Resurgence:
    9. Films and fictions: Hamlet, men's eyes and the ages of woman
    10. Women's voices in the cathedral of culture
    11. Beyond silence, imagination

  • Author

    Tony Howard, University of Warwick
    Tony Howard is Senior Lecturer in the English Department at the University of Warwick.


    • Selected as Book of the Season by Shakespeare's Globe

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