For men in the nineteenth century, work for money was usually a given; for women, work for money needed to be disguised as something else. Yet — perhaps because of this — women’s writing was often concerned with money, to the extent that Ellen Moers traces a tradition of ‘feminine realism’ in women novelists’ concern with the material facts of money, attributing their fascination with ‘the Reaľ to their denial of access to it.1 Although I argue that women routinely worked as playwrights, this was always done in an often painful dialectic with social and cultural proscriptions on their participation. In previous chapters, I have explored the consequences of casting women playwrights as exceptional, encouraging women playwrights only at moments of crisis in the theatre, but barring them from its permanent ranks, and requiring that they display a level of precocity and excellence to excuse their public prominence. In this chapter, I want to move from these rescuing angels to discuss the work of women who worked within the commercial theatre as it was constituted in various forms across the nineteenth century — that is, women playwrights who routinely worked for money, in theatres where the house takings were as important as aesthetic achievement or legitimacy.


Nineteenth Century Family Business Moral Panic Popular Theatre Woman Writer 
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Copyright information

© Katherine Newey 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine Newey

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