It was a feeling of sorrow and hopelessness that led the actress Johanne Luise Heiberg to start writing her memoirs in 1855, at the age of forty-two: Et Liv gjenoplevet i Erindringen (A Life Relived in Memory). The most highly-acclaimed Danish actress of the Romantic Age, she had become a myth in her own lifetime. But the demand for greater realism on stage gradually began to signal a new era.In her four-volume memoirs, the desire for clarification also becomes a construal in words, highlighting and illuminating those parts of the personal story needed to create the lasting monument to her life and art. A description of a life seen through sharply selective eyes. To glorify and preserve – and also to understand – that which had been, her own ephemeral art.
The eighteenth-century women dramatists cover a wide spectrum of styles. Both Anna Catharina von Passow and Birgitte Catharine Boye wrote pastorals, but they soon branched off in different directions. Boye devoted her pen to the heroic drama, and Passow began to experiment with the new form of comedy, which was the genre on which Charlotta Dorothea Biehl concentrated.While Boye’s stage art represents a high-flown conclusion to the eighteenth-century heroic drama, Passow and Biehl are of an earlier generation; they were innovative and made a major contribution to the continuation of the Danish public theatre in the period following Holberg’s death in 1754.