“Peeping” and Public Intimacy in Susanna Centlivre’s The Busy Body (1709)

  • Victoria Joule


The actress often features as the embodiment of the phenomenon of celebrity culture and “public intimacy”, but the playwright, specifically the female playwright has received less attention in this development. This chapter examines how the highly successful early eighteenth-century playwright, Susanna Centlivre, was involved in the promotion of actresses’ “public intimacy” through the unusual stage direction of “peeping”. It argues that the act of “peeping”; a half-concealed, half-revealed position that provided the audience with unique access to the actress compared with “asides” is similar to how we now read celebrity culture to function. The chapter explores the literary context of “peeping” and related issues of privacy, desire, control and power to demonstrate further the significance and impact of Centlivre’s use of the device.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victoria Joule
    • 1
  1. 1.Independent ScholarCardiffWales, UK

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