Kitty Clive, or The Fair Songster

Joncus, Berta. 2019. Kitty Clive, or The Fair Songster. Martlesham, Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer. ISBN 9781783273461 [Book]

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Abstract or Description

Kitty Clive (1711-1785) was a top London stage star. Singing powered her ascent and, for twenty years, was foundational to her success as she came to dominate spoken as well as musical comedy. Her protean powers transfixed audiences, whether in low-style productions or in works by masters like Purcell, Shakespeare, and Dryden. Celebrities such as Handel and Henry Fielding wrote vehicles for her.

Clive's career was unique. Despite a sometimes awkward biography - her father was a disgraced Irish Catholic; she defied managers; her marriage was almost certainly a social ruse and her 'husband' a homosexual - her musical voice helped her to become the champion of British song, of patriotism, and of propriety. Yet in the 1740s, critical opinion turned against Clive and the financial power she wielded. Salvaging her career with David Garrick's help, Clive gutted her legacy. She quit serious song and took to caricaturing herself on stage, winning back audiences by disparaging her earlier achievements. Altering works mid-performance, creating and re-shaping stage genres, and leveraging press coverage while seeming not to, she was above all a shrewd manager and a fascinating stage artist.

Clive's career reveals to us gorgeous song otherwise lost and perspectives previously unknown. For music historians, musicologists, theatre scholars, and anyone curious about performance history and star production in eighteenth-century Britain, her story is not to be missed.

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$99.00/£55.00(s) October 2018
978 1 78327 346 1
8 b/w illus.; 336pp, 23.4 x 15.6, HB

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8 November 2019

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Date Deposited:

08 Dec 2015 12:06

Last Modified:

28 Jun 2021 10:44


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