Theatre throughout Britain, but particularly in London, grew and prospered in Victorian and Edwardian times. The growth of public transport did much to open theatrical entertainment to the general masses, but members of society’s elite also began to see it in a more respectable light as the stage became dominated by great playwrights, including the likes of George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, J. M. Barrie, and John Synge.
Actresses, however, were not thought to be respectable by the middle or upper classes. For a woman to take the stage, choosing a profession over the traditional roles of wife and mother, was anathema to Victorian social mores.
Over time, female actors, such as Sarah Siddons, Ellen Terry, and Sarah Berhardt, gained a degree of social acceptance and professional acclaim, but it was still much easier for a man to make a name for himself on the stage.
In 1901, Sir Henry Irving was the first actor to be knighted, thus giving the royal seal of approval to the profession.
Queen Victoria was said to have a great fondness for the theatre, but it’s doubtful she attended any of the London stages herself, enjoying private performances at home.
For a woman with the social standing of Fenella Grantley, the heroine of my book Seduce Me With Sapphires, play acting was seen as a perfectly acceptable game—one to be enjoyed at house parties, particularly during Christmas festivities. However, it was nearly inconceivable that a woman from the top tier of society would actually earn money on the professional stage.
The Bloomsbury drama school in my book, run by the fictional Cedric Hardcastle, is based on London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, opened by English actor and theatre manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree around the time period of the action in Seduce Me With Sapphires. It was the first drama school established and did much to help the acting profession gain acceptance as a path for men and women. This institution remains one of the most prestigious schools for the dramatic arts in the world.
About the Author
Jane Feather is the New York Times best-selling author of more than thirty historical romances, including Tempt Me with Diamonds, Trapped by Scandal, and Trapped at the Altar. There are now more than 11 million copies of her books in print. Jane was born in Cairo, Egypt, and grew up in the south of England. She currently lives in Washington, DC, with her family. Visit her at JaneFeatherAuthor.com.
About Seduce Me With Sapphires
Three childhood friends dare to defy the rules of London—and love—in this glittering series from New York Times best-selling author Jane Feather . . .
A FLAWED CUT . . .
The Honorable Miss Fenella Grantley has a secret: She’s been taking drama classes and longs to be an actress. Ladies of her standing don’t appear on stage, but Fenella has never been one for society’s rules. She’s quite excited to take on the challenge of reading the leading role in a new play—until she meets the playwright. Toeing the line between infuriating and irresistible, his first impression leaves a lot to be desired.
OR A RARE FIND?
Edward Tremayne, illegitimate son of the Earl of Pendleton, scorned the ton years ago, making his own way in the world and pursuing his literary gifts on the side. The only thing he misses from his old world is Fenella. Since seeing her at a ball when she was a young debutante, he’s never forgotten her. Now that fate has reunited them, Edward’s determined to make her his leading lady—in every way. But the only thing they see eye to eye on is their intense passion for each other. And it just may take a massive misunderstanding for their love to get on the same precious page.