Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fanny Kemble

‘June 17 [1830].—Went last night to theatre, and saw Miss Fanny Kemble's Isabella [Southerne's Fatal Marriage], which was a most creditable performance. It has much of the genius of Mrs. Siddons, her aunt. She wants her beautiful countenance, her fine form, and her matchless dignity of step and manner. On the other hand, Miss Fanny Kemble has very expressive, though not regular, features, and what is worth it all, great energy mingled with and chastened by correct taste. I suffered by the heat, lights, and exertion, and will not go back to-night, for it has purchased me a sore headache this theatrical excursion. Besides, the play is Mrs. Beverley [In the Gamester by Moore], and I hate to be made miserable about domestic distress, so I keep my gracious presence at home to-night, though I love and respect Miss Kemble for giving her active support to her father in his need, and preventing Covent Garden from coming down about their ears…’

Actress Fanny Kemble was born this day, November 27th, in 1809.  She was not quite 21 when Walter Scott saw her performance, which he recorded in his journal.  Ms. Kemble moved to the United States two years later, initially to accompany her father on a theatrical tour.  By 1834, she had married an American, Pierce Butler.  The now Frances Anne Butler, kept several journals herself.  One noted journal deals with slavery, others with her life in Boston and trips to western Massachusetts.  She was fond of Lenox, MA, the current summer home of the Boston Pops (Tanglewood) where she is remembered today.  From her journal: ‘My abiding feeling is that I had better get back to my beloved Lenox, to the side of the “bowl” (the Indian name of a beautiful small lake between Lenox and Stockbridge), among the Berkshire hills…’

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