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Contribution to Book

Peer Reviewed


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The Sarah Siddons Audio Files: Romanticism and the Lost Voice

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During her lifetime (1755–1831), English actress Sarah Siddons was an international celebrity acclaimed for her performances of tragic heroines. We know what she looked like—an endless number of artists asked her to sit for portraits and sculptures—but what of her famous voice, reported to cause audiences to hyperventilate or faint? In The Sarah Siddons Audio Files, Judith Pascoe takes readers on a journey to discover how the actor’s voice actually sounded. Pascoe’s search leads her to enroll in a “Voice for Actors” class, to collect Lady Macbeth voice prints, and to listen more carefully to the soundscape of her life. Bringing together archival discoveries, sound recording history, and media theory, The Sarah Siddons Audio Files shows how romantic poets’ preoccupation with voices is linked to a larger cultural anxiety about the voice’s ephemerality.


Sarah Siddons, voice, sound recording, tragic muse, Romanticism, Romantic poets' voices, Lady Macbeth, The Winter's Tale

Journal Article Version

Version of Record

Published Article/Book Citation

Pascoe, Judith. "Chapter 1." The Sarah Siddons Audio Files: Romanticism and the Lost Voice (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2011). 1-10


Copyright © 2011 University of Michigan. Posted with permission