'Rouz'd by a Woman's Pen'

The Shakespeare Ladies' Club and Reading Habits of Early Modern Women

in Critical Survey
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  • 1 University of Rhode Island
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In the 1730s a group of women known as the Shakespeare Ladies’ Club promoted performances of Shakespeare’s plays and supported the creation of the Shakespeare monument in Westminster Abbey. The Shakespeare Ladies’ Club (SLC) has been accorded a footnote in the reception history of Shakespeare, but no one has yet taken account of their importance for women’s participation in the intellectual and cultural life of eighteenth-century London. By tracing the dynamics of this group, we may increase our understanding of women’s reading habits, their effect on the theatrical repertoire, and their role in the public life of clubs and philanthropic endeavours. The convergence of several factors made the SLC possible; this article contextualises the SLC within the literary and cultural life of the eighteenth century, and examines the importance of the SLC in the life and work of one member, Elizabeth Boyd.

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