This chapter focuses on the various literate practices of women readers and how each of those practices helped empower them through the public speaking skills and analytical strategies promoted by clubs and through the confidence gained from mastering (and sometimes performing and adapting) Shakespeare, by and large in the period before women could even vote. Women engaged in elaborate and intellectually demanding work on Shakespeare: they read plays closely; researched unfamiliar words or phrases; contextualized the plays in history, contemporary literature, and art; memorized passages; wrote essays; read aloud and sometimes performed plays; often kept up with the latest Shakespeare criticism; and frequently expressed their enthusiasm for Shakespeare publicly, by sponsoring libraries, educational scholarships, public gardens, and parks: all lasting memorials to these grassroots readers and to their passion for Shakespeare.
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