The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Lydia Thompson as 'Robinson Crusoe'

Lydia Thompson as 'Robinson Crusoe'

A carte-de-visite portrait of the burlesque actress Lydia Thompson (1838-1908), seen here as Robinson Crusoe, one of her most popular and successful roles.

The form-fitting costume Thompson is wearing is an interesting example of how cross-dressing in nineteenth century pantomime could be used to reveal feminine flesh. The ragged fur clothing that Defoe described becomes sexy on Thompson, as the fur skirt she is wearing both barely conceals and teasingly reveals her thighs. The costumier could show more of Crusoe’s form than of the female characters’ bodies because Crusoe was coded as male on stage.

Photographer unidentified.


Code: 125588
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