The Celebrated Mrs. Oldfield
The Life and Art of an Augustan Actress
AUTHOR: Lafler, Joanne
PUBLISHER: Southern Illinois University Press
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Anne Oldfield, who lived from 1683 to 1730, was one of the first great female stars of the London stage.
Although her origins are so obscure that the place and exact date of her birth are not known, she was buried with pomp in Westminster Abbey#151;the first actress to be so honored for her personal achievement.
She was certainly, by the standards of her time, an unconventional woman, earning her own way in the world, choosing to live openly with two successive lovers, and rearing two natural sons. Yet she was particularly successful in portraying conventional or idealized female characters. In comedy she specialized in the "fine" or fashionable lady, a role with which she became popularly identified despite the contrast between her busy professional life and that of the leisured, aristocratic women she portrayed. In tragedy (which she professed to dislike), she broke new ground, bringing to prominence a characteristically Augustan heroine, the noble patriot and martyr. In an important sense, these stage roles contributed not only to the fame but to the respectability of the woman who became known as "the celebrated Mrs. Oldfield."
PUBLICATION DATE: 9/1/1989
CATEGORY: Biography & Autobiography, Performing Arts