Revealing Shakespeare’s old ladies – a scholarly yet lively exploration of the presentation of ageing women on the Elizabethan and Jacobean stage.
Thoroughly researched and accessible, Old, Bold and Won’t Be Told considers closely Shakespeare’s development of his older female characters, who defy conventional stereotypes and act with power, influence and creativity. Shakespeare refers to standard characteristics of the ageing woman – her loss of looks, ‘inappropriate’ sexuality, flouting of male governance and inability to hold her tongue – but, unlike his contemporaries, also further develops and celebrates the strength and importance of this figure.
Shakespeare’s most notable older woman is Paulina in The Winter’s Tale, the only older woman in early modern drama who is still vocal and powerful at the end of a play – a play which owes its conclusion to her directorial creativity. Through her, Shakespeare highlights the importance of the old woman to family and society. The study also explores other rich examples of Shakespeare’s developed older women, including Queen Katherine (Henry VIII), Volumnia (Coriolanus) and Queen Gertrude (Hamlet).
About the Author
Yvonne Oram started her working life as a journalist and later studied literature, history and creative writing at the University of East Anglia as a mature student. She has taught these subjects in Adult Education and for the Open University. She was awarded a Doctorate from the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, for work on Elizabethan and Jacobean drama. She gives talks on this subject to literature and history groups in the UK and Europe, and is currently National Literature Subject Advisor for the University of the Third Age.