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Sister Carrie
"A Strangely Strong Novel
in a Queer Milieu"
Curated by Nancy M. Shawcross
Rare Book & Manuscript Library
University of Pennsylvania

Stage-struck

Photograph of the Casino Theatre

Located at Broadway and Thirty-Ninth Street in Manhattan, the Casino was one of the largest theaters in New York: it specialized in musicals and was the place where Carrie made her debut as a chorus girl.


Under the Gaslight
As much as the elegant shops of Chicago attracted Carrie, it was the theater that captivated her and ultimately provided economic independence. Dreiser was well acquainted with theatrical life in the 1890s, whether it be in Chicago or New York. He incorporated that knowledge into the text of Sister Carrie. The names of real actors, actresses, dramatists, and plays frequently appear in the characters' dialogues as well as in the third-person narration that describes where someone has been or is going.
They dined and went to the theatre. That spectacle pleased Carrie immensely. The colour and grace of it caught her eye. She had vain imaginings about place and power, about far-off lands and magnificent people. When it was over, the clatter of coaches and the throng of fine ladies made her stare.

--from Chapter VIII of Sister Carrie


Napoleon Sarony

Sarah Bernhardt

Fanny Davenport

Nat Goodwin

Joseph Jefferson

Lillian Russell

E. H. Sothern

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