Actresses of the Restoration Period: Mrs Elizabeth Barry and Mrs Anne Bracegirdle

Susan Margaret Cooper

Actresses of the Restoration Period: Mrs Elizabeth Barry and Mrs Anne Bracegirdle
Pen & Sword Books Ltd
United Kingdom
30 January 2023

Actresses of the Restoration Period: Mrs Elizabeth Barry and Mrs Anne Bracegirdle

Susan Margaret Cooper

The Restoration represents an exhilarating period of English history. With Charles II, the Merry Monarch’ restored to the throne, the country saw artistic and literary talent flourish. Charles was an enthusiastic patron of the theatre and helped breathe new life into British drama, reopening the playhouses after the grey years of closure under Puritanical rule.

One of the most significant innovations in Restoration theatre was the introduction of actresses on the English stage. This exciting new history is dedicated to the life and times of two of the Restoration’s most celebrated actresses: Mrs Elizabeth Barry and Mrs Anne Bracegirdle. It details their family roots, the beginnings and progression of their London stage careers, their retirement from the limelight, and their eventual demise.

Their lives and work are set against the lively and often dangerous atmosphere that epitomised seventeenth-century London and its theatres, and the places where Mrs Barry and Mrs Bracegirdle lived and worked alongside their fellow players, dramatists and others of their times. There are references to the actresses’ admirers and lovers within and without the world of theatre. Along with more favourable critical appraisals, there are explicit and derogatory lines, satirically written, regarding their supposed reputations.

This insightful biography places Elizabeth and Anne back in the limelight, and includes transcriptions taken from contemporary works, letters, poems and wills, all adding depth and colour to this fascinating subject.

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