American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Memory, Exhibit Object Focus

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Internationally Acclaimed American Actress

Prompt book for Charlotte Cushman's production of Hamlet
Prompt book for Charlotte Cushman's production of Hamlet, ca. 1860
Papers of Charlotte Cushman
Manuscript Division (5)

In 1836, Charlotte Cushman (1816-1876) made her acting debut as Lady Macbeth in New Orleans. That year she also played Romeo, beginning her practice of playing both male and female roles. Cushman appeared in London in 1845 opposite Edwin Forrest and was hailed as the greatest actress of her time. She played tragic heroines, as well as Hamlet, Cardinal Wolsey, and Romeo to her sister Susan's Juliet. Cushman's prompt book for Hamlet, a role that she first played in 1857, specifies entrances and exits, props, technical cues, line cues, and text cuts, thus giving insight into what her performance was like.

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