Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1997-1998 index

Distributed July 21, 1997
Contact: Tracie Sweeney

In Her Own Words: Elizabeth I Onstage and Online

Queen Elizabeth I will come to life in nine public library performances

Actress Marilyn Murphy Meardon will bring Queen Elizabeth I to life in a series of performances drawn from texts written by one of Great Britain's greatest rulers. In Her Own Words: Elizabeth I Onstage and Online, sponsored by Brown University's Women Writers Project and Rhode Island's Office of Library and Information Services, is funded by the Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Queen Elizabeth I, whose brilliant rule between 1558 and 1603 gave her name to an entire era, will reign in Rhode Island libraries in nine performances of In Her Own Words: Elizabeth I Onstage and Online, sponsored by Brown University's Women Writers Project in conjunction with Rhode Island's Office of Library and Information Services and funded by the Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities.

The "onstage" portion of the performance stars actress Marilyn Murphy Meardon. Dressed in a bejeweled black velvet Renaissance-style gown, Meardon will personify Elizabeth I at about mid-reign, reflecting upon her years as head of state through her writings, which ranged from poems and letters to major speeches in a style that roused patriotism, confidence and personal respect.

Editors: An illustration of the costume, designed by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann, is available. Contact the News Bureau for information. A schedule of Rhode Island performances follows below.

Brown University Librarian Merrily Taylor will moderate the presentations. An ardent admirer of Elizabeth I, Taylor will set the historical stage for the show and will manage question-and-answer sessions, serving as the "20th century's ambassador" between Elizabeth and the audience.

The "online" portion of the project is offered by the Women Writers Project (WWP) and Rhode Island's public libraries. "We hope these performances will encourage the public to read the original texts and reflect upon our attitudes toward the role of women in public life, particularly the stresses and strategies of a woman ruler," said Dr. Carol DeBoer-Langworthy, WWP's director and project director for In Her Own Words. "People interested in exploring the material in more depth may read texts listed in a bibliography that will be available on line and through the state's libraries." In addition, some of Elizabeth's writings upon which the performances are drawn are coded into the WWP's electronic textbase. A website dedicated to the performances and linked to the Rhode Island Library Network will be up and running after Aug. 10, and the public will be able to order printed transcripts of the WWP texts used in the show through that site after Oct. 15, 1997.

Meardon has been assisted in her preparation for the role by the project's artistic director, Anne Brady, by Professor Karen Newman of Brown University's Departments of Comparative Literature and English, and by Professor Elizabeth Hageman of the University of New Hampshire.

The library performances

After a special performance at the Providence Athenaeum Library in mid-September, the show will tour Rhode Island public libraries. All performances are free and open to the public. Performances are slated in the following communities:

The Brown University Women Writers Project

The mission of the Women Writers Project is to create and make accessible an electronic textbase of women's writing in English before 1830. Founded in 1986, the Women Writers Project pioneered the use of Standard Generalized Markup Language to create this versatile and long-lived scholarly resource. Using the project's textbase of nearly 250 encoded texts of all genres - including poems, sermons, prayers, prose, drama and letters - scholars in the earlier periods of English-speaking literature and cultures are able to recover and disseminate the range of writings in English by women.

On-line information about the WWP can be read at

The Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities

The Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities (RICH) is an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Its mission is to promote public understanding and appreciation for the humanities and to provide opportunities for all Rhode Islanders to educate themselves in the fields of history, literature, philosophy, religion, music and the arts. On-line information about RICH can be read at