Cora Urquhart Potter

The Victorian Actress as Provocateur


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About the Book

On the occasion of her death in 1936, a New York newspaper wrote that actress Cora Urquhart Potter “probably accomplished more for the cause of feminism than the efforts of all the equal rights organizations of her day.” This critical biography explores the life of the famed Victorian stage star who, abandoning her position in New York society, undertook a professional career spanning more than two decades. Potter’s defiance of convention both mirrored and propelled the changes transforming fin de siècle theatre and society. In advancing the concept of the New Woman, both on and off stage, she became a lightning rod for criticism within a social milieu and a profession still fervidly clinging to Victorian ideals.

About the Author(s)

Craig Clinton is the Director of Theatre at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.

Bibliographic Details

Craig Clinton
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 262
Bibliographic Info: 53 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4957-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix

Introduction: The Victorian Actress as Provocateur      1

1. “A Keen Student of American Foibles”      11

2. “Jumboizing” the “Fair Amateur”      21

3. “Rival Graces”: Mrs. Potter and Mr. Bellew in America      30

4. Antony and Cleopatra: “A Perilous Public Experiment”      44

5. The Antipodes: “A Large Dose of Success”      60

6. Thérèse Raquin and Francillon: “Immoral and Filthy Plays”      72

7. Charlotte Corday: “America Has Brought Forth Another Great Actress”      85

8. “A Pageant of Millinery” and “A Decadent Juliet”      98

9. Miladi in The Musketeers: “A Truly Great Performance”      111

10. Carnac Sahib: “A Large Section of the Audience Resented the Piece”      126

11. The Ghetto, Lady Meux and a “Mystic Farce”      137

12. Ulysses: “A Strike For Independence”      151

13. Actress/Manager at the Savoy      165

14. “Irreverent Laughter” and “A Ridiculous Perversion of History”      176

15. Restoration of the “Independent Spirit”      186

16. “Her Own Original” Vaudeville Offering      200

17. “Fifi Stillman’s Mother Dies at Monte Carlo”      212

Chapter Notes      223

Bibliography      239

Index      245

Book Reviews & Awards

“valuable…recommended”—Choice; “a detailed professional biography that reclaims a largely forgotten icon of U.S. theatre history…an enjoyable examination…a welcome contribution to the study of women’s experiences in this dynamic period”—Theatre Survey.