PEG WOFFINGTON AND HER WORLD by Janet Dunbar

PEG WOFFINGTON AND HER WORLD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A worthy and decorous attempt, by the author of the sensitive Prospect of Richmond (1967) and others, to penetrate the mystique of Peg Woffington, legendary actress of the early eighteenth-century English theatre. Although of humble Irish origins, in the days of severe English oppression, Peg took to the theatre like a dandy to the greenroom when the opportunity offered. At first apprenticed to a Madame Violante, who balanced on the high wire and produced plays acted by children, Peg rapidly gained competence and assurance, finally caused an admiring uproar by her performance as an ""airy gentleman"" in Farquhar's The Constant Couple. (Peg's shrewd insistence on a role which was so startlingly costumed attests to her show-biz instincts.) Leaving ireland, Peg conquered the London theatre. Miss Dunbar faithfully records the many birings, firings and secedings; the peripheral pit- and-greenroom gossip of love affairs, fallings out; the rhapsodic-to-waspish doggerel composed by members of a highly volatile theatre following. However, in spite of the careful reconstruction of Peg's career and her amours (including a temperamental alliance, Burton-Taylor fashion, with David Garrick), Peg herself remains dim. An image"" has buried the woman. Only the fine illustrations, including Hogarth's portrait, and a scattering of contemporary accounts, give much clue as to the force of her personality. A fine study for board-buffs but the real Peg Woffington has yet to step forward.

Pub Date: Aug. 20th, 1968
Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin