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  • Virago

Innocent Flowers

Julie Holledge

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Prose: non-fiction, Social & cultural history

Based on original material gathered over five years, Innocent Flowers tells the story of Edwardian actresses whose passionate love of the theatre was matched by their deep commitment to women's rights.

The Edwardian actress, glamorous and privileged, was the sex symbol of her time. Yet her life was a paradox: off stage she could marry, divorce and take lovers with impugnity; on stage she had to play dutiful wives or daughters or 'scarlet women'.

Thousands of these spirited women set out to change the conventional roles they played - and to change the world. Some of them were famous - Athene Seyler, Kitty Marion, Elizabeth Robins, Edy Craig, many others unknown. Managing their own companies, they put on hundreds of plays all over the country - many on taboo subjects such as divorce, sex, venereal disease, prostitution - by little known playwrights as well as established dramatists like Shaw, Ibsen, Barrie. They took the establishment theatre by storm; and they made their mark on the political stage too, forming the Actresses' Franchise League and joining the battle for the vote.

Innocent Flowers tells the story of these astonishing women (and includes some of their plays). By tracing their lives and loves, Julie Holledge has rediscovered an inspiring period in the history of women and the theatre.

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