Shop  |  Calendar  |  Join  |  Buy Tickets  |  Hamnet  |  Site Rental  |  Press Room  
About UsWhat's OnUse the CollectionDiscover ShakespeareTeach & LearnFolger InstituteSupport Us
Folger Exhibitions
• Past Exhibitions
Unruly Women
Shakespeare's Heroines

   Sign up for E-news!
   Printer Friendly


"Romeo and Juliet"

"All Shakespeare's women, being women, either love or have loved, or are capable of loving; but Juliet is love itself." Anna Jameson's remark in 1832 sets the tone for the nineteenth-century's view of Juliet as the young teenager, full of imagination and passion, given over to the thrill of her first love.


Raised in the wealthy Capulet household, by parents who left her care to the Nurse, Juliet leads a sheltered life until she meets Romeo. Then her determination t marry this man from a rival family leads her to resist her parents and strike out on her own. As M. Leigh Noel says of Juliet in 1885: "When a woman unites these two qualities--resolution and cunning--what is there she cannot effect?" 


The American actresses, sisters Charlotte and Susan Cushman, premiered as Romeo and Juliet at the Haymarket Theatre, London in 1846. Their success is indicated by the fact that they played these parts over twenty times. Not all reviewers were complimentary, however. One reviewer satirized: "Miss Romeo,--or rather,--Miss Cushman as Romeo, has appeared this week at the Haymarket. The curiosity is not a novelty...Why should not Mr. Charles Kean play Juliet?"



Next »
Charlotte and Susan Cushman as Romeo and Juliet. Staffordshire, ca. 1852.

Additional Information

It was not unusual for women to play male parts in theatrical performances. "Britches" parts, where women dressed as men, allowed actresses to explore and a wide varriety of theatrical roles and test their skills. 

Bookmark and Share   
     Copyright & Policies   |   Sitemap   |   Contact Us   |   About This Site
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Get directions »

Federal Tax ID #04-2103542
PublicReading Room
10am to 5pm, Monday through Saturday8:45am to 4:45pm, Monday through Friday
12pm to 5pm, Sunday9am to noon and 1pm to 4:30pm, Saturday
Main: 202 544 4600
Box Office: 202 544 7077
Fax: 202 544 4623