Eleanora Duse was one of the great actresses of the second half of the 19th, early part of the 20th century. In this biography which deals with the whole of her life, Helen Sheehy makes the point that Duse's importance is that she introduced a new style of acting to the theatre, a style especially apt for the new kind of realism that was taking over the stage at the same time. Her realistic acting style is contrasted to the presentational style of Sarah Bernhardt, the greatest actress of the period just prior to Duse and overlapping with her own career. Significantly, Duse's greatest successes were in the work of the realistic dramatist, Henrik Ibsen.
Despite the emphasis on her career, Sheehy does not neglect to include a good bit of information about Duse's love life, most significantly her long affair with the Italian poet Gabrielle D'Annunzio.
This report prepared by Jack Goodstein