Loughborough University
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'Most women have no character at all': female playwrights and the London Theatre, 1760-1800

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posted on 2018-06-12, 15:07 authored by Eva Lippold
The eighteenth century saw a remarkable increase in the number of works written by women, and also the number of women who made a living by writing. For the first time, being a writer was a viable career choice for a woman, and it was possible to support a family by writing, despite the backlash some individual writers, such as Mary Wollstonecraft, faced for their work. This thesis focuses on the work women did in the eighteenth-century theatre, and how they reconciled the demands of being a professional writer with their society's gender expectations. By analysing a variety of play texts written by different women, I show that they engaged critically with ideas about female virtue, the marriage market, and women's participation in the literary scene, the working world, and national politics. The plays of this period are relatively under-researched, and often do not appear at all in critical studies of eighteenth-century literature. My aim, therefore, is to rectify this situation, and to join other critics in rediscovering this interesting and vital era of female playwriting.


Loughborough University



  • The Arts, English and Drama


  • English and Drama


© Eva Lippold

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


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