Elements of Historiographic Metadrama in Liz Lochhead’s Plays: Blood and Ice and Mary Queen of Scots got her Head Chopped off

Adisa Ahmetspahić


The most prominent concerns of contemporary British literature have been reserved for the revision of tradition and history and contestation of metanarratives through historiographic metafiction and historiographic metadrama. Liz Lochhead’s works are abundant in elements of historiographic metadrama which Lochhead uses to rewrite (hi)stories from a different angle, especially (hi)stories involving famous women and their position in the society, as is the case with Blood and Ice and Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off. Blood and Ice focus on Mary Shelley’s process of writing her novel Frankenstein while Mary Queen of Scots GotHer Head Chopped Off presents Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I in the light of their strained relations. Pertaining to Blood and Ice, the aim of this paper is to discuss the position of Mary Shelley as a woman artist surrounded by Romanticists such as P.B. Shelley and Lord Byron andtheir liberal humanist ideology which shows great indebtedness to the patriarchal metanarrative. With regards to Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off, the paper examines Mary Stuart and Elizabeth I’s roles as women and monarchs, masculinity-femininity dichotomy surrounding the queens, the problematics of their historical representation, as well as the danger of their mythologization. The analysis of the elements of historiographic metadrama in the two plays shows that they are examples of ‘herstories’ that dismantle male-centered narratives as imposed rather than natural. 


historiographic metadrama; Blood and Ice; Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off; metanarratives; herstory

Full Text:



Brown, Ian (2016), History as Theatrical Metaphor: History, Myth and National Identities in Modern Scottish Drama, Palgrave Macmillan

Capitani, Maria Elena (2020), ˝Blood and Ice, or Liz Lochhead’s ‘Hideous Progeny’˝, in: Maria Parrino et al (eds.) Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, 1818-2018, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 111-122.

Cowan, Ian (1971), The Enigma of Mary Stuart, Victor Gollancz Ltd, London

Dizdar, Srebren (1999), Poezija engleskog romantizma. TKD Šahinpašić, Sarajevo

Dunn, Jane (2004), Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens. Alfred A. Knopf, New York

Hamilton, Albert Charles (1990), ˝Elizabeth˝, The Spenser Encyclopedia, Taylor & Francis e-Library, 621-646.

Harvie, Jennifer (1996), Liz Lochhead’s Drama, PhD Thesis, University of Glasgow

Hornby, Richard (1986), Drama, Metadrama, and Perception, Associated University Press, London and Toronto

Horvat, Ksenija (2011), ˝Liz Lochhead˝, in: Ian Brown (ed.), The Edinburgh Companion to Scottish Drama, Edinburgh University Press, 177-187.

Hutcheon, Linda (2004), The Politics of Postmodernism, 2nd ed., Routledge

Hutcheon, Linda (2006), A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction, Taylor & Francis e-Library

Kostić Kaličanin, Milena (2015), ˝‘Twa Queens. Wan Green Island’: Nationalist and Feminist Issues in Liz Lochhead’s Mary Queen of Scots Had Her Head Chopped Off˝, Facta Universitatis, vol. 12, no. 2, 103-113.

Knowles, Richard Paul (1987), ˝Replaying History: Canadian Historiographic Metadrama˝, Dalhousie Review, vol. 67, No. 2&3, 228-243.

Kucich, Greg (2000), ˝Mary Shelley’s Lives and the Reengendering of History˝, in: Betty T. Bennet and Stuart Curran (eds.), Mary Shelley in Her Times, The John Hopkins University Press, 198-213.

Lešić, Zdenko (2008), Teorija književnosti, Službeni glasnik, Beograd

Lochhead, Liz (1982), Blood and Ice, The Salamander Press, Edinbrugh

Lochhead, Liz (1987), Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off, Nick Hern Books, London

Nicol, Bran (2009), Cambridge Introduction to Postmodern Fiction, Cambridge University Press

Scullion, Adrienne (2013), ˝A Woman’s Voice˝, in: Anne Varty (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Liz Lochhead, Edinburgh University Press, 116-125.

Varty, Anne (1994), ˝From Queens to Convicts: Status, Sex and Language in Contemporary British Women’s Drama˝, in: Katie Wales (ed.), Feminist Linguistics in Literary Criticism (Essays and Studies), 65-89.

Wanning Harries, Elizabeth (2016), ˝Changing the Story: Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Myth˝, in: Mary Eagleton and Emma Parker (eds.), The History of British Women’s Writing: 1970-Present: Volume 10, Springer, 158-169.

White, Hayden (1973), Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe, The John Hopkins University Press.

Wood, Barry (2020), Invented History, Fabricated Power: The Narrative Shaping of Civilization and Culture, Anthem Press

DOI: https://doi.org/10.51558/2490-3647.2022.7.1.225


  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN: 2490-3604 (print) ● ISSN: 2490-3647 (online)

Društvene i humanističke studije - DHS is under the Creative Commons licence.