Lithograph of the Cushman sisters as Romeo and Juliet


Cross-dressed casting of major tragic roles was not commercially viable because of the conservative nature of London audiences. However, in 1846 this changed when Charlotte Cushman, an established actor in the USA, came to London to play Romeo to her sister Susan’s Juliet. Charlotte stated that she was taking on the role to protect Susan, recently involved in a romantic scandal, from the unwanted attention of male actors. In fact, this was a ruse that allowed her to play a male role whilst at the same time upholding Victorian ideals of moral decency.

Full title:
Miss Cushman and Miss Susan Cushman in the characters of Romeo and Juliet
19th century, London
Print / Image
Thomas Fairland [printmaker]
Usage terms

Folger ART File C986 no.1 (size L). Used by permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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Folger Shakespeare Library
ART File C986 no.1 (size L)

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