Drama at the courts of Queen Henrietta Maria. By KAREN BRITLAND.

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article reviewpeer-review


Karen Britland's Drama at the Courts of Queen Henrietta Maria offers a fascinating reinterpretation of Aurelian Townshend's 1632 masque Tempe Restored . This masque is said to have heralded the first appearance of the adult female singing voice on the (masquing) stage; performers named ‘Madame Coniack’ and ‘Mistress Shepherd’—who played Circe and Harmony, respectively—have featured prominently in the growing body of criticism on early modern women's theatricality and cultural engagement. The consensus has been that Madame Coniack, at least, was a professional singer. But Britland, drawing on archival and court records, proposes that Shepherd and Coniack were not professionals but members of Queen Henrietta Maria's household; she identifies Shepherd as a dwarf of ten or eleven years of age. Britland's distinctive book provides evidence for the richness of seemingly marginal or insular court materials, suggesting that our work in the archives is far from complete, and providing an important contribution to the emerging debate over women's performance in seventeenth-century England.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-221
Number of pages3
JournalThe Review of English Studies
Issue number234
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2007
Externally publishedYes

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