While Ellen Terry's Shakespearean roles are commonly discussed in considerations of her work, the actress's involvement with the comic play Nance Oldfield is glossed over if not entirely overlooked. However, Terry bought the rights to this play, revised the script with Bram Stoker, performed the leading role, and invoked this semi-fictional figure across the latter part of her career. This essay examines public theatrical ephemera in conjunction with personal photographs of Terry dressed up as Oldfield at home and the extensive marginalia on Terry's copy of the script to argue that Terry's assumption of ‘Nance Oldfield’ was a rhetorical performance. Terry's alliance with this character, as an on-stage character and an off-stage alter ego, led her to speak with greater confidence about her own professional life and about women's public role in nineteenth-century England.

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