Front cover image for When Romeo was a woman : Charlotte Cushman and her circle of female spectators

When Romeo was a woman : Charlotte Cushman and her circle of female spectators

Lisa Merrill (Author)
At the height of her career, actress Charlotte Cushman was one of the most famous women in the English-speaking world. Cushman challenged Victorian notions of gender in her stage portrayals of male characters and of strong, androgynous female characters. Offstage, she was a powerful businesswoman who supported her family, women lovers, and friends. Biographer Merrill examines Cushman's correspondence to shed new light on her relationships and in turn on our understandings of women's "romantic friendships." She demonstrates how Cushman's androgynous presence served as a symbol to many of her contemporaries, and revealed their multiple and often contradictory attitudes toward female performers, women, and the possibilities of lesbian desire. Illustrated with many previously unpublished portraits of Cushman in her various roles and other revealing photographs of her family, lovers and friends, the book examines as autobiography Cushman's own narratives, the stories she authorized others to write, and the letters she wrote to intimates.--From publisher description
Print Book, English, 1999
University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, Mich., 1999