Born into a theatrical dynasty, Fanny Kemble lacked the rest of her family's desire to perform. But when their theatre at Covent Garden was threatened with closure in 1829, Fanny reluctantly volunteered to take to the stage. The young actress's debut was a huge success and her life as a nineteenth-century celebrity had begun. Soon Fanny found herself a slave to the stage, paraded around the country by her avaricious father. On a tour of the US she saw a chance to escape in the form of the charming Pierce Butler. However, in marrying him, Fanny had merely cast aside one set of chains for another: Pierce would not tolerate her independence. Fanny was to discover another abhorrent side of her husband -- his money came from plantations in America's South maintained by the slavery system she had grown to loathe. In protest, she set about writing the book that made her the scandal of American society, JOURNAL OF A RESIDENCE ON A GEORGIAN PLANTATION, and her marriage collapsed in the midst of Civil War. Fanny had once again found herself in the cold glare of the public eye. Intimate and engrossing, Rebecca Jenkins' biography brings one of the nineteenth century's most interesting figures back to life.
Simon & Schuster Ltd
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UK Kirkus review
Fanny Kemble was born into a Georgian acting dynasty but she had no wish to tread the boards herself. Yet this plain, ungainly woman went on to become one of the foremost actresses of her day, and also one of the first feminists to shock English and American society. Her life was every bit as dramatic as the stage roles she reluctantly performed. It included a tempestuous marriage to an American slave owner who tried to dominate her - and found her too feisty for his liking. Fanny scandalised society by writing a book about her marriage, and to the end she stuck to her principles. In this affectionate biography, Rebecca Jenkins lets her subject speak to the reader as much as possible through her diaries and letters, and there are many extracts from the writings of those who knew and admired her. In her own time Fanny was seldom allowed a voice but in this book we are able to hear her plaintive voice speaking to us through the generations.(Kirkus UK)
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