In 1868, Eliza Lynn Linton wrote that:

There is a great demand made now for more work for woman, and wider fields for her labour. We confess we should feel a deeper interest in the question if we saw more energy and conscience put into the work lying to her hand at home.1

In this chapter I want to explore the connections between women’s work in the home, and their participation in that widest of fields, the nation, through the practices of the theatre. Although Linton fashions their relationship into a moral hierarchy, clearly valuing the claims of home over those of ‘wider fields,’ I want to explore the more complex interpenetrations of representations of home and nation in women’s playwriting, and the interdependence of the material practices of home theatricals and the national stage. In doing this I will chart a double movement, as home theatricals brought the commerce and concept of performance into the home, and domestic ideology gave women the theoretical scope to participate in aspects of nation-making. Home and nation may at first appear to be diametrically opposed as concepts and places but they are linked through women’s negotiations with and challenges to domestic ideology in the act of taking up the playwright’s pen.


Woman Writer Forum Theatre Home Performance Amateur Performance Home Theatrical 
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© Katherine Newey 2005

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  • Katherine Newey

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