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Frances Anne Kemble (American Cyclopaedia)

Reference

George Ripley and Charles A. Dana, eds.,The New American Cyclopaedia: A Popular Dictionary of General Knowledge (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1861), 10: 129.

Her mother, long known on the English stage as Mrs. Charles Kemble, was originally a danseuse at the opera house, London, as Miss De Camp. She manifested no special predilection for the stage, but was induced, in consequence of the embarrassed circumstances of her family, to make her début at Covent Garden, then under the management of her father, in Oct. 1829. On this occasion she played Juliet, her father taking the part of Romeo and her mother that of the nurse, with complete success, notwithstanding that 6 weeks previous she had no thought of embarking in a dramatic career. For the 3 succeeding years she performed leading parts in tragedy and comedy with great applause, distinguishing herself particularly in Juliet, Portia, Bianca in Milman's "Fazio," Juliet in the "Hunchback" (the latter being originally personated by her], Belvidera, Isabella, Lady Teazle, and Louise de Savoy, in her own play of "Francis the First," written when she was 17 years old, and received with great approbation. In 1832 she accompanied her father to the United States, and met with an enthusiastic reception in the chief cities. In 1834 she was married to Mr. Pierce Butler of Philadelphia, and at the same time retired definitively from the stage. Incompatibility of tastes and temperament having rendered the union an unhappy one, a separation took place at the end of a few years, and Mrs. Butler subsequently fixed her residence in Lenox, Berkshire co., Mass. Previous to this she had published her first work in prose, "A Journal of a Residence in America" (2 vols. 8vo., London, 1835 ; 2 vols. 12mo., Philadelphia), chiefly devoted to a description of her tour through the United States. It was followed in 1837 by a drama entitled " The Star of Seville," which was acted with success ; and in 1844 she published a collection of her poems, a portion of which only had previously appeared. In 1846 she visited Europe, extending her travels as far as Italy, where her sister, Mrs. Sartoris, resided, and in 1847 published an account of her tour under the title of " A Year of Consolation." Shortly afterward steps were taken to procure a divorce from her husband, which was granted by the legislature of Pennsylvania in 1849, since which time she has resumed the name of Kemble. In the winter of 1848-'9 she commenced in Boston a series of Shakespearian readings which drew crowded audiences ; and during the next two years she repeated the course in some of the principal American cities. In 1851 she returned to England, reappeared for a brief period on the stage, and after giving readings in London and other parts of the United Kingdom, made another long continental tour. In 1856 she returned to the United States, and continued at intervals to give readings in Boston and elsewhere, till Feb. 1860, when she gave her last reading in Boston, and took her farewell of the public. Her present residence is in Lenox, Mass.
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