Elizabeth Robins: Staging a Life, 1862-1952

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Routledge, 1995 - Biography & Autobiography - 283 pages
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Elizabeth Robins: Staging a Life, 1862-1952is a thorough and brilliantly researched historical biography of a truly pioneering woman. Born in Kentucky during the Civil War, Elizabeth Robin's life was to straddle continents and careers. Raised by her grandmother, she also lived briefly with her father in a Rocky Mountain gold-mining camp before moving to New York to embark on a career as a stage actress. She succeeded and toured America with the great Shakespearean actors Barrett and Booth. In 1888, she moved to London, where she popularized Ibsen on the British stage, played the first Hedda Gabler in English and created the role of Hilda in The Master Builder. Later Robins became a prolific and popular writer of novels and non-fiction, as well as becoming active in the suffragett movement. She maintained a vital role in the women's movement, particularly in improving women's health, for the rest of her life.

Elizabeth Robins: Staging a Lifeexamines historical identities, asking how and why Robins chose to present herself in different ways at different times. Angela John looks at how Robins stagedher life, and considers how others interpreted such a life. In the process, she re-evaluates the purpose of historical biography. Using such sources as the diary Robins kept for most her life, letters from friends such as Henry James and John Masefield (whose "pornographic notes are discreetly quoted), drafts of novels, reviews and papers, John examines the multifaceted nature of Robins' life, the ways in which she confounded and transcended the many boundaries faced by women of her time.

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Elizabeth Robins: staging a life, 1862-1952

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A stage actress in America and London, Robins retired from the theater at age 40 and dedicated her life to writing and the woman suffrage movement. Johns, an academic, resurrects Robins's rich life and work, which included 14 novels as well as books on feminism. Read full review

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