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Publication - Professor Elaine McGirr

    New Lines

    Mary Ann Yates, The Orphan of China, and the new she-tragedy


    McGirr, E, 2018, ‘New Lines: Mary Ann Yates, The Orphan of China, and the new she-tragedy’. ABO: Interactive Journal for Women in the Arts, vol 8.


    This essay identifies a significant break in eighteenth-century tragedy from feminocentric tales of fallen women begging (the audience) for forgiveness and redemption to a different kind of she-tragedy, in which the heroine is neither fallen nor sexually desired, but rather transcends nation and politics with the “natural” moral force of maternal love. I argue that this shift was made possible/legible by Susannah Cibber’s ill-health, which forced Arthur Murphy to reconceive The Orphan of China’s heroine and allowed a rival actress, Mary Ann Yates, to step into this new role and to establish a tragic ‘line’ defined in opposition to that of her predecessor. The essay demonstrates the significance of this shift by tracing The Orphan of China’s convoluted path from the French to the English stage and reading that tragedy through the lens of its earlier translations and Douglas, the play Covent Garden mounted in opposition to The Orphan of China.

    Full details in the University publications repository