Another Regency birthday to celebrate–that of Sarah Siddons, considered one of the greatest actresses of her time, who was born July 5, 1755 in Brecon, South Wales (in the Shoulder of Mutton public house). She was born into the business; her father Roger Kemble owned a small traveling theater company. When she fell in love with a fellow actor, William Siddons, her family objected and sent her off to work as a maid, where apparently her employers enjoyed her dramatic reading aloud. But they relented, and Sarah and William married.

She first played London at the age of 20, but failed to impress audiences–possibly because it was too soon after the birth of her third child. After touring the provinces she returned, and became the undisputed diva of Drury Lane–the Queen of Tragedy (or the Queen of Rant as the caricaturists would call her). During her performances, the audience would weep and sometimes faint.

She gave readings to the Royal Family and elocution lessons to their children, and she was the first woman to play Hamlet. After a twenty year reign on the London stage, she gave her farewell performance in 1812 in one of her signature roles, Lady Macbeth.

I find the theater of the Regency period fascinating; if ever I have the privilege of time travel I am definitely going to attend the play and the opera.

What would you do on your time travel trip?

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