The Incomparable Hester Santlow: A Dancer-Actress on the Georgian Stage, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Incomparable Hester Santlow

A Dancer-Actress on the Georgian Stage, 1st Edition

By Moira Goff


200 pages

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In the first full-length study of the English dancer-actress Hester Santlow, Moira Goff focuses on her unusual career at Drury Lane between 1706 and 1733. Goff charts Santlow's repertoire and makes extensive use of archival resources to investigate both her dancing and acting skills. Santlow made a unique contribution to the development of dance on the London stage, through her dancing roles in dance dramas by John Weaver and pantomimes by John Thurmond and Roger, as well as the virtuoso dances created for her by Mr. Isaac and Anthony L'Abbé. Goff examines Santlow's fascinating personal life, including her relationships with the politician James Craggs the Younger and the Drury Lane actor-manager Barton Booth. Santlow was unusual in making the transition from successful dancer-actress to independent and respectable widow. Goff also traces her life after retirement as her daughter's family rose from the gentry towards the aristocracy. This book will be of interest to dance and theatre historians, to women's studies scholars, and to all who are engaged with ongoing debates on the lives and careers of women on the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century stage.


'Moira Goff makes the most of limited resources to offer a good account of Hester Santlow’s career. Her treatment of Santlow as an actress is convincing, and the dances come alive in her descriptions. One gets a real sense of the talented performer for whom they were written'. Judith Milhous, CUNY Graduate Center, USA ’… It exemplifies dance scholarship of a rare kind: Ms. Goff spent 20 years investigating even the slightest details of Santlow’s life and career and wrote about her dances from experience, step by step, and with feeling. … the book’s detail is marvelous.’ New York Times ’Goff's research has been thorough and meticulous…. This is a book that will be of great value to academics and researchers…’ The Dancing Times ’This book is undoubtedly a result of the author's dedication and fascination with the charming theatrical figure of Hester Santlow.’ Theatre Survey 'The great strength of this book is the diligent recreation of many of the dances, music, and occasions on which they were performed, together with an account of Santlow's dancing masters and later partners. … this is a book that combines learning with enthusiasm, is illustrated usefully, and makes one regret not having seen the dancer-actress herself.' Restoration and 18th Century Theatre Research

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; The young dancer, 1694?-1709; Dancer and actress, 1709-1712; James Craggs; Theatre rivalries, 1713-1715; 'Dramatic entertainments of dancing', 1715-1719; Barton Booth; Business as usual, 1719-1723; Mimes and pantomimes, 1723-1728; 'The incomparable Mrs Booth', 1728-1733; 'Happy beyond expression', 1733-1773; Appendix: glossary of 18th-century dance terms; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Moira Goff researches, reconstructs and performs European theatre and ballroom dancing of the early eighteenth century. She is also a curator of rare books at the British Library, London, UK.

About the Series

Performance in the Long Eighteenth Century: Studies in Theatre, Music, Dance

Performance in the Long Eighteenth Century: Studies in Theatre, Music, Dance
Focusing on performance culture during the long eighteenth century, this series offers studies of individuals, institutions, forms and trends in all types of cultural performance including theatre, opera, dance, musical performance, and diverse popular entertainments. It is a forum for interdisciplinary work, drawing the debates of historians, musicologists, literary scholars, dance, theatre and opera scholars into a creative symbiosis. The editors welcome studies which are concerned with British, European, and early American cultural history. Studies that concern themselves with theoretical questions surrounding acts of performance during this period are also welcome.

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