Kemble, Fanny, 1809-1893

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1809-11-27
Death 1893-01-15
Britons
English

Biographical notes:

Actress and author. Full name: Frances Anne Kemble. Married name: Frances Anne Butler.

From the description of Fanny Kemble papers, 1829-1874. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79162205

Frances Anne (Fanny) Kemble (1809-1893) was a British actress & writer; she was the daughter of Charles Kemble and Maria Theresa (DeCamp) Kemble.

From the description of Letter by Fanny Kemble to [Mr. Heath?], ca. 1854? (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 80027730

English actress, author.

From the description of Papers of Fanny Kemble, 1848-1849 [manuscript]. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647810664

The British actress and writer Fanny Kemble's infamous entanglement with Georgia began in the 1830s when she married Pierce Mease Butler, who in 1836 inherited his grandfather's legacy, including hundreds of slaves and several plantations on the Sea Islands. Frances Anne Kemble was born in 1809 into the first family of the British stage. After her debut in 1829 at Covent Garden in London, England, where she triumphed in the role of Juliet in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, she became an icon of the British stage; she achieved international stardom on her tour up and down the East Coast of the United States in the fall of 1832. She retired from her theatrical career after marrying Butler in June 1834 but hoped to pursue her literary interests. She became a best-selling author when her Journal of Frances Anne Butler appeared in 1835, and the book scandalized American readers with her candid assessments of her adopted country. In December 1838 Kemble accompanied her husband and two young daughters to Butler's vast holdings on St. Simons and Butler's islands. Butler took his wife south despite her moral opposition to slavery, hoping a visit would rid her of her abolitionist bent. It was a miscalculated attempt: during the winter of 1838-39, Kemble's diary became an impassioned eyewitness account of the wrongs of slavery. A devoted diarist, Kemble also offered commentary on fellow planters, as well as the flora and fauna of the islands, but her most acute observations involved her encounters with slaves. Kemble's riveting account of her husband's slaves provides gripping insight on life in the antebellum South. As the wife of a planter, Kemble had unimpeded access to plantation affairs and was especially poignant and pointed when she allowed the voices of slave women, so seldom heard during this era, to shine through in the pages of her journal. Kemble's battles with Butler over harsh treatment of slaves contributed to the couple's permanent impasse, which resulted in marital separation in 1845 and a divorce in 1849. Although abolitionists encouraged Kemble to publish the vivid diary of her days in Georgia, she resisted their entreaties for more than two decades, so as not to antagonize Butler, who maintained custody of their two daughters until they came of age. During the Civil War (1861-65), Kemble became alarmed about foreign attitudes toward the Confederacy and published her Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1838-1839 in England in 1863. This book - an Englishwoman's dramatic condemnation of the evils she had witnessed, the plantation life she had lived - caused a sensation as well. Although some have tried to credit this book with dissuading the British from official recognition of the Confederate States, it is clear that Kemble's Georgian journal had a larger impact on general readers than on diplomatic decisions. White southerners vilified the book; some continued to discredit Kemble's account for more than a hundred years. Margaret Davis Cate, for example, published a scathing critique in the Georgia Historical Quarterly in 1960. Despite this campaign, the journal has become a classic and a reliable source for scholars investigating plantation life. Kemble's descriptions of Georgia revealed her ambivalent attraction to the state, as she confessed, "I should like the wild savage loneliness of the far away existence extremely if it were not for the one small item of 'the slavery.'" But it was this "one small item" that became a bone of contention between Kemble and Butler; and later Kemble and her younger daughter, Frances Butler Leigh, had bitter and protracted disagreements over this issue. (Indeed, Leigh wrote her own memoir of the region, published in 1883, Ten Years on a Georgia Plantation, which was intended as a direct refutation of many of her mother's claims about race relations.) Kemble's older daughter, Sarah, married Owen Jones Wister, a doctor from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Their son, Owen Wister, later wrote The Virginian [1902].) Kemble eventually moved to Philadelphia, where she supported herself by touring the United States and Europe with her Shakespeare readings. She continued to travel until her death on January 15, 1893, in London. Today the plantations Kemble wrote about reflect the diversity of the region: the former estate on Butler's Island has been turned into a state wildlife preserve; another patrimonial home on St. Simons has been obliterated by development, absorbed on the grounds of a marina; and Little St. Simons Island remains in the hands of the family that bought the land from Fanny Kemble's daughters and is now a luxury resort. These islands are dotted with reminders of this remarkable nineteenth-century woman and the mark she left on this remote corner of Georgia. New Georgia Encyclopedia. (http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-792&hl=y) Retrieved 6/8/2009.

From the description of Fanny Kemble collection, 183u-184u. (University of Georgia). WorldCat record id: 384616742

The provenance note written on the flyleaf by Samuel Stark states "this scrapbook was given to me by John Jarratt of Worthing, Sussex, England, January 1959, and belonged and was assembled by a member of Fanny Kemble's family." Fanny Kemble was a respected English actress.

From the description of Commonplace book, ca. 1842-1868. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122384089

Fanny Kemble in US 1832-34, 1849-69.

From the description of Letter to Miss Towne : ALS, [undated]. (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 26561413

English actress.

From the description of To Miss x x : autograph manuscript copy of the poem signed, [1844 or later]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270497071

From the description of Autograph letter signed : New York, to Harriet St. Leger, "Thursday 27th", 1865 Apr. 27. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270489036

From the description of Autograph letter signed : place not specified, to Catherine Dickens, undated. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270490811

Frances Anne Kemble (1809-1893), English actress, achieved dramatic success in the theatre under the better-known name of Fanny Kemble.

From the description of Papers of Fanny Kemble, 1824-1892. (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 122510016

Fanny Kemble was born into a noted theatrical family. Her reluctant debut as Juliet created a sensation and saved the family theatre. She made a wildly successful tour of America, where she met and married Pierce Butler, heir to one of the richest fortunes in America; their brief marriage was rocky, as Butler's fortune was built on slave-holding plantations and she was a devout Evangelical and abolitionist. After a difficult public divorce, she traveled, returned to acting, and gave celebrated readings of Shakespeare. A dedicated writer, she published poetry and journals.

From the description of Fanny Kemble letter to Mrs. Sclaber, ca. 1841? (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 54049955

Kemble, an actress and author, was born in England, and lived and worked in both England and the U.S.

From the description of Correspondence, 1847-1890. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 122656038

From the guide to the Fanny Kemble correspondence, 1847-1890., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

English actress and writer.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : St. Moritz, to an unidentified recipient, [1848] Aug. 19. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 750557384

Frances Anne (Fanny) Kemble, 1809-1893, was an English actress and author. She married Pierce Butler of Philadelphia, who inherited a Georgia plantation. Kemble witnessed slavery first-hand while living on her husband's plantation. She had previously refused to speak out publicly against slavery. Her letter to the Times was eventually published in 1863 as an appendix to her Journal of a residence on a Georgian plantation.

"On the 15 December 1791, Charles Sedgwick was born in Stockbridge Massachusetts, the youngest son and tenth child of Federalist Judge Theodore Sedgwick (1746-1813) and Pamela Dwight (1753-1807). In 1820, he moved to Lenox and educated himself for the bar, as had his three brothers. He eventually attained the position of clerk of the courts in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. On 30 September 1819 he married Elizabeth Buckminster Dwight, a teacher, and over the next thirteen years had five children: Katharine Maria, Charles, Elizabeth Dwight, William Dwight and Grace Ashburner. Ill health eventually forced him to resign in 1856, the year in which he later died." -- "Charles Sedgwick Papers 1813-1908" from the Massachusetts Historical Society web site, http://www.masshist.org/findingaids/doc.cfm?fa=fa0035 (Accessed May 12, 2009)

"John Thaddeus Delane [was] born October 11, 1817, London, England, died November 22, 1879, Ascot, Berkshire, editor of The Times of London for 36 years. Delane, the second son of a distinguished barrister and author, was reared in Easthampstead, Berkshire, where his family was neighbour to John Walter II, owner of The Times. Walter knew young Delane and marked the boy as a likely prospect for a newspaper career. After studying for two years at King's College, London, Delane attended the University of Oxford, from which he graduated in 1839. He had, in his college days, written several newspaper articles, and he went to work for The Times. His father had become the paper's financial manager, but John's bent was editorial. Hardly had he started working there when the editor, Thomas Barnes, died, and Walter made young Delane editor at age 23." -- "John Thaddeus Delane" from Encyclopaedia Britannica, http://search.eb.com/article-9029792 (Accessed May 12, 2009)

"Stowe, Harriet Beecher (14 June 1811-1 July 1896), author, was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, the daughter of Lyman Beecher, a clergyman, and Roxana Foote. Her father, one of the most popular evangelical preachers of the pre-Civil War era, was determined to have a role in shaping the culture of the new nation. Her mother, from a cosmopolitan, novel-reading, Episcopalian family, studied painting and executed portraits on ivory. (...) In 1843, moved by the millennial spirit of the times and by the suicide of her brother George, Stowe experienced a deepening of her faith, a "second birth" more meaningful than her first conversion experience at age fourteen. Her profound identification with Christ as a man of sorrows and lover of the lowly helped her through years of poverty, ill health, and domestic difficulty and informed her most famous fiction. In 1849 their eighteen-month-old son, Samuel Charles, died in a cholera epidemic that swept Cincinnati. "It was at his dying bed and at his grave," Stowe wrote of Charley, "that I learnt what a poor slave mother may feel when her child is torn away from her." When the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law the following year implicated the North in just such family separations, Stowe began writing Uncle Tom's Cabin. Serialized in the National Era between 5 June 1851 and 1 April 1852, the story had a huge following and sold more than 300,000 copies in the United States during the first year after it was published in book form by J. P. Jewett in 1852. Drawing on the familiar genre of the slave narrative but casting it in a fiction bristling with regional types and racy slang, Stowe wrote what was recognized at the time as a great American novel." -- "Stowe, Harriet Beecher" from American National Biography (Accessed May 12, 2009)

From the description of Fanny Kemble letter, 1852? (University of Georgia). WorldCat record id: 374048535

"Kemble [married name Butler], Frances Anne [Fanny] (1809-1893), actress and author, was born on 27 November 1809 in Newman Street, London, not far from Covent Garden, the centre of the life of her theatrical family. ... In 1838 Fanny with husband [Pierce Butler] and children went to Georgia to spend the winter on their plantations. From apparently knowing nothing of slavery, she was thrown into the thick of the problem. Butler was moderately considerate to his slaves, but nothing could disguise the horrors of a system in which one man lived by owning others, treating them precisely as he fancied in order to get the best investment out of them. Worst of all, Fanny recognized that the considerable wealth the Butlers enjoyed, and to which she owed every mouthful she ate, came from the hated system. As it turned out, she spent less than four months on the plantations, but that was enough to stoke her moral indignation over the atrocities she saw. Once more, as she had done on first going to America, she kept a journal of her experiences, which in 1863 finally saw print as Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1838-1839. ... Less than a month after her first reading in London, Fanny had been summoned to America, where her husband filed divorce proceedings on the grounds of desertion; batteries of expensive lawyers were hired on both sides, but Butler finally agreed to a settlement without the formality of a trial, to prevent revelation of evidence extremely embarrassing to him. It was a long and bitter divorce, but it was settled with surface amicability; Fanny was to have $2500 a year and access to the children, who were to live with their father. Butler tried every stratagem to keep from fulfilling the conditions, to the extreme pain of Fanny, who resumed her maiden name." - Robert Bernard Martin. "Kemble , Frances Anne (1809-1893)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/15318 (Retrieved August 6, 2009)

Thomas Gold Appleton was a writer and artist, born in Boston, Massachusetts to Nathan Appleton, a merchant, and Maria Theresa Gold. Nathan Appleton, whose family had settled in New England in 1635, helped develop Lowell, Massachusetts into an industrial center and amassed a fortune that made it possible for Thomas to persue his interests freely. Appleton was admitted to Harvard College as a sophomore in 1828. After graduation in 1831, he remained in Cambridge through 1832 studying law to please his father, but he had no liking for the profession. In 1833 he went to Europe for the first of many trips, some of which were years long, throughout his bachelor life as an essayist, poet, painter, connoisseur of the arts, traveler and conversationalist, welcome everywhere for his warmth and wit. Thomas Gold Appleton - American National Biography Online http://www.anb.org (Retrieved June 9, 2009)

From the description of Frances (Fanny) Anne Kemble ALS, circa 1800s. (University of Georgia). WorldCat record id: 429469287

The British actress and writer Fanny Kemble's infamous entanglement with Georgia began in the 1830s when she married Pierce Mease Butler, who in 1836 inherited his grandfather's legacy, including hundreds of slaves and several plantations on the Sea Islands. Frances Anne Kemble was born in 1809 into the first family of the British stage. After her debut in 1829 at Covent Garden in London, England, where she triumphed in the role of Juliet in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, she became an icon of the British stage; she achieved international stardom on her tour up and down the East Coast of the United States in the fall of 1832. She retired from her theatrical career after marrying Butler in June 1834 but hoped to persue her literary interests. She became a best-selling author when her Journal of Frances Anne Butler appeared in 1835, and the book scandalized American readers with her candid assessments of her adopted country. Fanny Kemble (1809-1893) - New Georgia Encyclopedia http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org (Retrieved March 24, 2009)

Thomas Dent Mutter, physician, was born in Richmond, Virginia, March 9, 1811 and died in Charleston, South Carolina on March 16, 1859. He was a graduate of Hampden Sidney and at the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania in 1831. He then went to Paris and on his return settled in Philadelphia. In 1841-1856 he was professor of surgery in Jefferson Medical College. He wrote an account of the salt sulphur springs of Virginia, an essay on "ClubFoot," contributed various professional papers to periodicals and published an edition of Robert Liston's "Lecture of the Operations of Surgery," with additions (Philadelphia, 1846). Famous Americans http://famousamericans.net

From the description of Fanny Kemble letter to Dr. Mutter, 1834? (University of Georgia). WorldCat record id: 351422548

From the guide to the Frances Anne Kemble Letters to Charles Sedgwick, 1848-1860, (Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library, )

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Subjects:

  • Iago (Fictitious character)--Manuscripts
  • Authors--Correspondence
  • Drama
  • Lawyers--Correspondence
  • Actresses--Correspondence
  • Playbills
  • Authors, English--19th century--Correspondence
  • Actors, English--19th century--Correspondence
  • Divorce
  • Actors--Correspondence
  • Actresses--19th century--Correspondence
  • Actresses
  • Household employees--Selection and appointment
  • Word games
  • Newspaper editors--History--19th century--Sources
  • Custody of children
  • Slavery--History--19th century--Sources
  • Women authors, English--19th century--Correspondence
  • Actresses--19th century--Archives
  • Philanthropists--Correspondence
  • Editorials--History--19th century--Sources
  • Divorce suits
  • Physicians--Correspondence

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