Menken, Adah Isaacs, 1835-1868

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Actress and author.

From the description of Adah Isaacs Menken papers, 1862-1925. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70980303

American actress active in England.

From the description of Autograph letter signed, dated : Liverpool, 19 April [n.y.], to [Edward Tyrrell] Smith, [n.y., Apr. 19]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270582298

Adah Isaacs Menken was born in Milneburg (a suburb of New Orleans), Louisiana, in 1835. Learned in Bible, literature and languages (including Latin and Hebrew), she served at one time as a teacher in a girls' school. Menken married Alexander Isaac Menken in 1856, and the couple lived first in New Orleans (where Menken began performing to earn money) and then in Cincinnati. She began publishing poems (some in Isaac Mayer Wise's Israelite ), and she lobbied intensely for Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild to be able to claim the seat in the English Parliament which was being denied him because he was a Jew.

Menken and her husband divorced (by rabbinical divorce), after which she moved to New York and had three unhappy marriages (to non-Jews).

Menken's fame as an actor spread with her portrayal of Mazeppa in the adaptation of the Byron play in 1861. Literary men, including Mark Twain, and later Charles Dickens and Charles Reade, flocked to her side. During the great Exposition in Paris, "she became the darling and the rumored mistress of kings and princes; and she cultivated her intimate and ambiguous friendship with the elderly Alexandre Dumas. She returned to London and was involved with the poet Swinburne. In 1868 she left for Paris again, to appear in a new production; but very soon the ailments that had set in years before brought on her death, in an attic room opposite the theatre. Among others, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow visited her; and the poet Thomas Buchanan Read was with her to the end. A rabbi attended her last hours."

Two volumes of Menken's poetry were published, Infelicia (1868) and Memoirs (1856).

1 Source: The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. 7.

From the guide to the Adah Isaacs Menken, collection, undated, 1862-1868, (American Jewish Historical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Adah Isaacs Menken, collection, undated, 1862-1868 American Jewish Historical Society
referencedIn Cartes-de-visite photographs of Adah Issacs Menken, ca. 1862-1866. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Biography -- Menken, Adah I. Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library
creatorOf Swinburne, Algernon Charles, 1837-1909. Biography of Adah Isaacs Menken : extra-illustrated : [album] Rogers Public Library
creatorOf Menken, Adah Isaacs, 1835-1868. Adah Isaacs Menken papers, 1862-1925. Library of Congress
referencedIn Miscellaneous letters and ephemera removed from printed volumes in the Harris Collection, 1873-1931. Brown University, John Hay Library
referencedIn Actress and Singer Photograph Collection, ca. 1850 - 1930, 1850-1930 The Society of California Pioneers.
referencedIn Letter from Thomas Purnell to A. C. Swinburne, 4 Dec. 1867includes:ff. 112-113 Adah Isaacs Menken: Algernon Charles Swinburne, poet: Thomas Purnell, author and journalist: Letter to Algernon Charles Swinburne from Thomas Purnell rel. to Adah Isaacs... British Library
referencedIn Adah Isaacs Menken. Texas Woman's University Library, Mary Evelyn Blagg-Huey Library
creatorOf Menken, Adah Isaacs, 1835-1868. Collection of items relating to Adah Menken. University of Wisconsin - Madison, General Library System
referencedIn Material relating to the relationship between A. C. Swinburne and Adah Isaacs Menkenincludes:ff. 42-44 Sir John Henniker Heaton, 1st Baronet; MP: Walter Theodore Watts-Dunton, formerly Watts; critic, novelist and poet: Algernon Charles Swinburne, p... British Library
creatorOf Biography of Adah Isaacs Menken [microform] : extra-illustrated : [album]. Brown University, Brown University Library
creatorOf Menken, Adah Isaacs, 1835-1868. Autograph letter signed, dated : Liverpool, 19 April [n.y.], to [Edward Tyrrell] Smith, [n.y., Apr. 19]. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf OAC Review Index. Macdonald, OAC Review, v.43, no.3, Nov.1930, p.105. University of Guelph
referencedIn Saxon, Lyle, 1891-1946. Flaming career of Adah Menken of New Orleans, 1934. Louisiana State University, LSU Libraries
creatorOf Menken, Adah Isaacs, 1835-1868,. Autograph letter signed from "Dolores," Alameda County, California, to Augustin Daly [manuscript], [1863?] October 14. Folger Shakespeare Library
referencedIn Fredric Woodbridge Wilson Collection of Theatre, Dance and Music (Harvard Theatre Collection). Cartes-de-visite photographs of Adah Isaacs Menken ca. 1862-1866. Harvard University, Houghton Library
referencedIn The Robert Cushman Butler Collection of Theatrical Illustrations Washington State University Libraries: Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Enchanters of Men, With Twenty-Four Illustrations
Relation Name
associatedWith Copeland. person
correspondedWith Daly, Augustin, 1838-1899 person
associatedWith Hotten, J. C. person
associatedWith Keenan, Henry Francis, 1850-1927? person
associatedWith Mary Flagler Cary Music Collection (Pierpont Morgan Library) corporateBody
associatedWith OAC Review Index. corporateBody
associatedWith Saxon, Lyle, 1891-1946. person
associatedWith Smith, Edward Tyrrell, 1804-1877, person
associatedWith Society of California Pioneers corporateBody
associatedWith Swinburne, Algernon Charles, 1837-1909 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
United States
Theater--History--19th century


Birth 1835-06-15

Death 1868-08-10





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SNAC ID: 54478892