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Word Count: 1,150
Any life story written or oral more or less dramatically is in one sense a personal mythology a self-justification write Raphael Samuels Paul Thompson Any autobiographical narrative doubles as a morality and this can be discerned not only in its shaping but in the mythical elements which may be juxtaposed with unique personal memory In short the mythical elements in memory need to be seen both as evidence of the past and as a continuing historical force in the present In England from the late nineteenth century onwards successful actors were particularly prone to record their lives for an admiring public Their autobiographies often follow conventional narrative patterns and incorporate the mythologysing and self-justification to which Samuels and Thompson refer Furthermore their autobiographies not only function as an exercise in myth-making but also as the performance in print of an already established public persona Autobiography allows rge representation of a self already determined and constructed within a professional milieu circumscribed by the performative The extent to which an actor or actress achieves control or autonomy over self-construction and self-representation through the act of writing autobiography is open to question however Gail Marshall has argued with particular reference to Ellen Terrys The Story of My Life that For the actress to enter into the world of authorship is to enter upon new possibilities of self-constitution and specifically to envisage new possibilities for the persistence of the evidence of that self Reliance on the body and its impact is surpassed in the act of writing While Marshalls perspective specifically on female autobiography is one of liberation through the act of writing the possibility that autobiography is yet another form of entrapment is just as plausible especially as demonstrated by Tomas Postlewait Also writing on actresses autobiographies in the late nineteenth century including Terrys he argues that they become A series of omissions and denials - a process of marginalising self in the very process
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