In this world and the next: a tragedy of gender and celebrity via: LAST POST

Mrs_Siddons_by_Joshua_Reynolds

Siddons dominated the female tragic roles on the English stage for over 30 years. Her stately performances in the most immediate of art forms articulated the eighteenth century’s ideal of the sublime, and her representations of the classical passions, in combination with her outwardly virtuous private life, won over audiences as diverse as George III, who appointed her Reader to his family, his son the Prince Regent, with whom he never agreed about anything else, and Lord Byron, who admired her more than any other actor, male or female, worth more than Cooke, Kemble and Kean all put together.

Even the Duke of Wellington, as famous for dry understatement as she was for grand pathos, was a fan.

Going to see her act was like an ecumenical religious event. Hazlitt said she was a goddess, Tragedy personified. By the time she died in 1831, she had outlived two kings, her friend, the portraitist Lawrence, the poet Byron, her brother and fellow-actor John Philip Kemble, her upstaged and discarded husband William Siddons, and, worse than anything that a mother should endure, five of their children, but not her reputation…

Mrs Siddons, whether we would have liked her acting or not, was the most significant British stage actress there has ever been, so it is frustrating that no historical research or intuitive leap across time will prove that at the end of her career she was either giving a bad impersonation of her former self, or risking a new theatrical naturalism, daring to show the nakedness of emotions, the indistinct articulation of deranged thoughts, the fragility of old, heartbroken women. She was capable of both…

via In this world and the next: a tragedy of gender and celebrity « LAST POST.

And for an in-depth look at the first female super-star of the English stage — all the family, all the foes, all the fame, and all the folly click right here:

Sarah Siddons by Pippa Rathborne

“Pippa Rathborne’s mother and father were actors. If her mother and father had not been so adorable, she would never have been interested in being an actress.”

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