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"Weeping mothers shall applaud": Sarah Yates as Margaret of Anjou on the London stage, 1797.

Recent studies of Romantic theatre have drawn attention to the need for the drama to be studied as a genre distinct from that of written literature. In her study Glorious Causes (2001), Julia Swindells points out that scholars "of the drama have attached too much significance to the written text," while failing to recognize that "in relation to any play, there are production as well as performance values to consider." (1) Writing twelve years later, David Worrall indicates the persistence of this problem: he considers that "insofar as literary studies can be described as a branch of theatre studies (or vice versa), a situation of critical asymmetry has arisen, in which playwrights and play texts have provided the primary context for scholarly enquiry." (2) By analyzing the drama at a purely textual level, continues Worrall, accurate insight into the performance's contemporary reception is prohibited, as performance meanings are always distributed in the theatre, "rather than residing principally in the fixed status of the authorial text." (3) Both authors draw attention to the numerous paratextual factors influencing theatrical reception: these include the geographical and temporal location in which the performance occurs; the visual, oral, and aural elements accompanying the performance; and the actors chosen to embody the dramatic roles. It is this final factor with which my study is centrally concerned. Appreciating that the play text is "only a signifier, a witness to a greater idea, which can only be realized through the interpretation of production," this study demonstrates the decisive role played by casting choices in determining the relationship between dramatic characters' written and performed identities by assessing a performance of Margaret of Anjou staged in London in 1797. (4)

Margaret of Anjou, the French-born warrior Queen of Lancastrian England, found frequent representation on the late eighteenth-century British stage. Margaret's notoriety in Britain was owed centrally to Shakespeare, who had famously presented the figure in his historical tragedy Henry VI. (5) Shakespeare had emphasized the "amazonian" tendencies of his "warlike Queen" and described her in thoroughly masculine terms, as "stern, obdurate, flinty, rough," and "remorseless." (6) Recently, scholars including Worrall and Dror Wahrman have contended that the "She-wolf of France" popularized in Shakespeare's tragedy underwent a radical transformation in late eighteenth-century British dramas. (7) Wahrman proposes that despite the preservation and even intensification of Margaret's obduracy and military prowess in early eighteenth-century dramas, "when Margaret returned to the stage" at the end of the century, "gone was the feisty Amazonian behavior, gone (almost) was the intrepid female warrior charging to battle, gone was the woman who disguised nature in order to encourage the men to fight." (8) In place of her formerly amazonian and manipulative characteristics, continues Wahrman, precedence was now given to Margaret's strong maternal sentiments, which "completely eclipsed any other aspect of her performance." (9) While Wahrman identifies the "gender panic" sparked by the American Revolution as the catalyst for Margaret's theatrical reformation, Worrall argues that Margaret's feminization on the British stage reached its apex in the 1790s and responded to events in revolutionary France. (10) During this period, theorizes Worrall, dramatizations of Margaret's captivity and separation from her husband "spoke powerfully of the fate of Marie Antoinette," who had become an object of compassion in Britain following her suffering at the hands of the Jacobins. As a result, Margaret's character was sentimentalized in British dramas in order to enhance audiences' sympathies for the real life Queen of France. (11)

Instances of Margaret's transformation in late eighteenth-century dramas from brutal warrior to sentimental mother are observable in plays including George Colman's The Battle of Hexham (1789); Edward Jerningham's "Margaret of Anjou: An Historical Interlude" (1777), revised for Covent Garden in 1793; and Richard Valpy's The Roses: Or King Henry VI (1795). Colman's musical foregrounds Margaret's emotional fragility and maternal tenderness by having her weep on the battlefield out of fear for her son's safety; Jerningham's "Interlude" ignores Margaret's amazonian qualities entirely and presents her as the archetypal damsel in distress, concerned solely with protecting her son; and Valpy's adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy further downplays Margaret's status as a "warlike Queen" by omitting all scenes in which Margaret herself either speaks of or partakes in armed conflict and by providing her with an exhibition of maternal affliction following the death of her son, which, in both length and emotiveness, exceeds that scripted by Shakespeare. (12)

In conjunction with the explanations for Margaret's revised characterization offered by Wahrman and Worrall, it is important to acknowledge also the likely efforts made by revolutionary-era playwrights to distinguish Shakespeare's "warlike" and savage French Queen from the "impious amazons of republican France," whose martial involvement in their country's revolution had earned them a reputation in Britain as "unsex'd females" and "Gallic freaks." (13) From 1789 onwards, France's violent and subversive women became synonymous in Britain with sexual and political aberration. Considered to have supplanted their familial cares with public concerns, and to have rid themselves of feminine feeling, these female revolutionaries were depicted as the detestable opposite of Britain's sentimental and maternal ideal, whose concerns did not " [extend] beyond [her] own family." (14) Regarded as a threat to social equanimity, France's masculine women were ardently condemned by political loyalists and gender conservatives alike. (15) As staunch anti-Jacobin author Hannah More insisted in 1799, women who relinquished their "maternal love" and "sweet domestic attachments" to perform the roles of "female warriors" were both "disgusting and unnatural," and not to be tolerated in Britain. (16)

Given the panic instilled in British conservatives by armed and "unsex'd" women, it is unsurprising that scripts presenting the "amazonian trull" originally depicted by Shakespeare became increasingly rare on the late eighteenth-century stage: (17) in London in particular, where theatre censorship was especially stringent, dramatizations of maternal and feminine Margarets were certainly more likely to be tolerated than replicas of Shakespeare's savage "she-wolf." (18) Despite these anxieties, however, British portrayals of Margaret that reinforced her previously "warlike" and "ruthless" characterization did not disappear entirely from the London stage. In 1766, British playwright Thomas Francklin produced the historical tragedy The Earl of Warwick (1766), an adaptation of French dramatist Jean-Francois de la Harpe's Le Compte de Warwick (1763). Unlike the later portrayals, Francklin's heroine was recognized for her resemblance to Shakespeare's "lofty ... commanding" and "spirited matron." (19) Francklin's "haughty queen" has ambitions to "conquer men"; she claims to "enjoy" scenes of "blood and horror," manages to raise "a pow'rful army," and commits, then boasts of, a "base / Blood thirsty, cruel, savage, and revengeful" murder of the eponymous Earl. (20) In spite of the incongruity of Francklin's heroine, and the reincarnations of Margaret which emerged in late eighteenth-century dramas, an unrevised version of The Earl of Warwick was performed at the Haymarket theatre on February 9, 1797. (21)

The presentation of a warrior Queen who, as playwright and theatre critic Elizabeth Inchbald writes in her "Remarks" (1808), possesses "such ferocious mind and manners" (22) seems to challenge the contention that Margaret's fierce and "Amazonian tendencies were overshadowed" in performances of the late eighteenth century by her new characterization as a "protective" and "aching mother." (23) To propose this argument, however, is to assume that script and performance accord, which is not necessarily the case. While, at a textual level, Francklin's Margaret might adequately be perceived as the threatening antithesis of the period's feminine ideal, it is impossible to confirm through a reading of the text alone that she appeared this way during performance. Debatably, the harmony between Margaret's textual identity and performed identity was challenged in 1797 by audience's insight into the private circumstances of the actress embodying the role.

The pertinence of the individual actor or actress in translating, and in some cases entirely transforming, a character's identity on stage has been explored extensively by Marvin Carlson. In his study The Haunted Stage (2000), Carlson proposes that
   the common view of theatrical production as the embodiment of a
   preexisting literary text tends to take the actor as a more or less
   transparent vehicle for that text, physically congruent with the
   stated requirements of the text and possessing adequate vocal and
   physical skills to deliver the text effectively to the audience.
   This simplified view, however, does not take into account what the
   actor creatively adds to the literary text. (24)

As Carlson's study suggests, the actor or actress personating a role is more than a passive medium through whom the words on the page are communicated. The performer him or herself exerts significant influence over the way the role is perceived on stage, making the text alone an inadequate source of evidence for the characters theatrical self.

Works by Michael Quinn and Felicity Nussbaum have similarly drawn on the relationship between actor and character. In his theoretical essay "Celebrity and the Semiotics of Acting" (1990), Quinn proposes that "this link between the life of the performer and the knowledge of that life that the audience brings to performance" prevents the actor "from disappearing entirely into the acting figure or the drama" as the audience consciously or unconsciously merge "the actors references to the fictional events" with those occurring in the performer's personal life. (25) Decisions regarding which aspects of the performer's life to share with the public, therefore, are crucial in mediating responses to the theatrical role personated by the performer: "the information transmitted by entertainment news about the actor's life," continues Quinn, is "brought to the performance as a way to fund perceptions," and is capable, in certain instances, of displacing "authority from the creative genius of the author." (26) In Rival Queens (2010), Nussbaum shows this interplay between performer and text to acquire particular pertinence in the eighteenth century, owing to the vast "circulation of celebrity news and gossip." (27) Nussbaum explains how "anecdotes circulating about [actresses'] private lives" received wide dissemination from the early 1700s onwards, and constituted "an imagined off stage personality. ..that served as a theatrical substitute for authentic knowledge" about the actress's private self. Access to this knowledge encouraged theatregoers to blend "the actress's putative personality with the assigned character's emotions and thoughts" by impelling them to "speculate about which portion of the inner consciousness of the actress was shared with the [fictional] character." (28) This actor-centered model of dramatic reception explored by Quinn and Nussbaum is fundamental to my reading of The Earl of Warwick. Drawing also on a recent study by Helen Brooks, which shows the "relationship between the personal and the performed" to have intensified in the 1790s, owing to revised definitions of selfhood and identity, I hypothesize that Francklin's tragedy, when performed in 1797, presented audiences with yet another portrait of Margaret in which maternity superseded savage masculinity as the heroines focal trait, owing largely to the selection of actress. (29)

My analysis sheds light on the life and career of the little-known actress Sarah Yates, namesake through marriage of the period's more notorious performers, Richard and Mary Anne Yates. (30) I contend that Sarah's private circumstances, and the publicity these received both before and during her performance of Margaret, substantially governed the audience's perception of both Yates as an actress and Margaret as a character. I begin by expanding on the heightened relationship formed between actor and character in late eighteenth-century acting theory. I then examine Franklin's script itself, and reveal the disparity between Margaret's 1797 reception and the response she had gained in London in the previous decades. I go on to argue that this disparity can best be understood in the context of the domestic affliction suffered by Yates just six months before she performed in London. To convey this point, I explore the public articulation of Yates's private anguish, both on the stage and in the press. I propose that theatregoers' knowledge of Yates's familial grief served to defend Yates against the charges of unwomanly ambition frequently directed toward the eighteenth-century actress while concurrently nullifying the challenge posed by her character's military endeavours, by manipulating audiences into perceiving Margaret, like Yates herself, as a desperate and devoted mother.

"A Delightful Proteus": The Shift from Disguise to Authenticity in Late Eighteenth-Century Acting Theory

In 1759, the actor Thomas Wilkes declared that
   to do justice to his character [the actor] must not only impress it
   on his own mind, but make a temporary renunciation of himself and
   all his connections in common life, and for a few hours consign all
   his private joys and griefs to oblivion [and] forget, if possible,
   his own identity. (31)

Wilkes's suggestion that the actor is able "to make a temporary renunciation of himself" and to forget "his own identity" while he performs on stage echoes Richard Flecknoe's earlier celebration of the actor as "a delightful Proteus," capable of "wholly transforming himself into his part." (32) It supports also the claim made in 1744 that skilled actors become so "lost in Character" when they perform that they will not "once betray a Passion of their own." (33) All three statements exemplify Joseph Roach's observation that during the early and mid-eighteenth century, the actor was seen to possess "not only the power of self-alteration," but also the "power of self-abdication in favor of the role." (34) It was a widely established notion that when performers took to the stage, all private and personal aspects of their lives became null and void. During their enactments of theatrical roles, actors transformed themselves into beings entirely separate from themselves, and retained no trace of their offstage identities.

Toward the end of the century, the possibility of the individual's transient abandonment of his or her authentic self became a problematic concept. As a number of political historians and theatre scholars have shown, the closing half of the century witnessed "a typically Romantic bias against the actor's violation of his own integrity through his performance of a dramatic role." (35) Eighteenth-century social theorists argued that the pressures and possibilities of commercial society had encouraged and enabled individuals to "adopt the strategic poses of actors," and to "pass [themselves] off as something or someone" they were not through the consumption of material goods. (36) The ensuing anxiety about external disguise and disingenuousness led to attempts to redefine the meaning of identity along more internal, personal, and stable lines. As Wahrman explains, the final quarter of the eighteenth century witnessed the demise of earlier theories that perceived identity as "mutable, assumable, divisible, or actively malleable" and encountered a contrary focus on models of selfhood that emphasized "psychological depth" and "one's unique inner truth." (37) No longer protean and disposable, the self was reconfigured in the late 1700s as constant, essential, and incapable of being shed at will.

This reinterpretation of the self, prompted by eighteenth-century social theory, had an inevitable impact upon contemporary acting theory. As Lionel Trilling has shown, the actor who, like Wilkes's archetype, supplants his own identity with that of another partakes in the very "attenuation of selfhood" that, by the turn of the century, was considered entirely incongruent with modern conceptions of identity. (38) This clash between the definition of the actor as "a delightful Proteus" and emergent theories of inherent subjectivity led to revised accounts of the art of acting, which, as Brooks has observed, attempted "to establish a relationship between actresses' selves and their theatrical performance of character" in order to align contemporary accounts of acting with the "Romantic notion of self." (39) Brooks explains that with "the earlier mode of performance in which the actor transformed [him/herself] into another" having become "increasingly at odds with prevailing discourse," the late eighteenth century witnessed "a new cultural moment" that sought to bring "character and actress together in one unambiguous and coherent identity." (40) Rather than renouncing their offstage identities in order to immerse themselves in their theatrical roles, actors performances were reconfigured "as expressions of their own emotions, and authentic selves, through the medium of the character." (41)

In 1798, while struggling to come to terms with her daughter Marias impending death, the revered tragedienne Sarah Siddons epitomized this paradigm of acting as self-revelation in a letter to her friend Penelope Pennington. Commenting on her forthcoming performance in Edward Moores The Gamester (1753), Siddons declared,
   I must go dress for Mrs Beverley--my soul is well tun'd for scenes
   of woe.... I can ... upon the stage give a full vent to the heart
   which ... swells with its weight almost to bursting. (42)

Siddons's statement outlines the described tension between performance as disguise and performance as display. Rather than defining acting as a process that forces the suppression of her genuine sentiments beneath the veneer of contrived and transient emotions, as was often the case with her mid-century forerunners, Siddons anticipates the disclosure, through her fictional character, of her sincere and personal feelings. Mrs. Beverley's artificial distress furnishes Siddons with the opportunity to give "full vent" to her authentic domestic woe (43) By anticipating this communication of her own psychological anguish through the medium of a stage role, Siddons typifies the contemporary understanding of performance as a divulging art form, in which the actress is recognized not for "sinking herself into the character, but rather for foregrounding herself through it." (44)

As indicated previously, this fusion of self and character was by no means unpractised, or unrecognized, in performances prior to Siddons's period. Nussbaum argues convincingly that the growth in the early 1700s of "fictions that circulated around actresses' lives" meant that performers' biographical circumstances were largely "interwoven with their dramatic performances" long before the 1790s. (45) What is significant about the later decades, however, is the perceived inevitability of this conflation, and the dominant influence it exerted over theatregoers' expectations. Having rejected the possibility that the actress makes "a temporary renunciation" of all her "private joys and griefs" when taking to the stage, the impact of her personal life on the nature of her performance becomes seemingly unavoidable. The public therefore attend the theatre actively anticipating a collision between the actress's own emotions and her character's fictional circumstances. As a result, information regarding the actress's private life acquires accentuated power over the audience's interpretation of her theatrical figure. This newly dominant theory of acting as an unmasking of private emotion is pivotal to my interpretation of Yates's performance in Francklin's Earl of Warwick, to which I now turn my attention.

"The Fell Serpent": Margaret of Anjou and Francklin's Earl of Warwick on the Pre-1790s London Stage

Francklin's Earl of Warwick takes place following the deposition of Margaret's husband, King Henry VI, and his replacement on the throne by Edward IV. In the course of the play, Henry is imprisoned in a dungeon and Margaret endures confinement in the King's palace. Margaret's son is also held captive by Edward, who has "torn [him] from his mother's arms." (46) As in Shakespeare's tragedy, Margaret's violent and vengeful response to her situation is central to Francklin's narrative. Margaret's speech is predominantly made up of powerful expressions of hatred for both Warwick and Edward, the first of whom was instrumental in "robbing] [her] of a crown," and the latter having gained that crown. (47) The characteristically scornful tone of Margaret's speech is exemplified during a dialogue with Clifford. Having boasted of fooling Warwick into believing Edward to be his enemy, and herself his ally, Margaret discloses her plan to use Warwick as her "instrument" and "necessary tool," and to "make him draw/His trait'rous sword, to sheath it in the breast/Of him he loves, then point it to his own." She claims to have twined herself "round his heart," and, "like the fell serpent crept into his bosom, / That [she] might sting more surely." (48) Margaret later defines herself as "sharp and cruel" and declares it her duty to "judge and punish" while her enemies "hear and tremble." (49) The duplicity and truculence conveyed in

Margaret's speech shows Francklin to maintain much of Shakespeare's original emphasis and exemplifies his heroine's stark contrast to the sentimentalized depictions of Margaret scripted in the 1790s.

Reactions to London performances of Francklin's Margaret staged before 1790 suggest a close resemblance between "the fell serpent" presented in the script and the equivalent figure exhibited on the stage. When Francklin's tragedy was first performed at Drury Lane in December 1766, Margaret had been played by Sarah Yates's aunt through marriage, the acclaimed tragic actress Mary Anne Yates. Mary Anne was renowned for depicting the "harsh and coarse" traits of the "Virago's characters." (50) In line with this, her rendition of Margaret had highlighted the Queen's "grandeur of mind, pride of behaviour," and "resentment of injury" and had added to her repertoire of performances that attempted to overawe her audience rather than "gain the soul" or "steal into the heart" of her spectators. (51) When revived in 1784, despite being played by Sarah Siddons--notorious for her pity-inspiring portrayals of sentimental heroines--Margaret continued to be perceived unsympathetically by her London audiences. (52) Though one reviewer acknowledged brief moments during Siddons's performance when "the distracted mother breaks through," Margaret was perceived primarily as a "haughty Queen" who "walked as if she trod her enemies beneath" and conveyed such "malicious contempt and indifference" toward her victims that she managed to "destroy the impression of pity on [the audience's] minds for [her] distresses." (53)

In contrast to the "want of the pathetic" acknowledged in earlier performances of the tragedy, however, when a textually unmodified version of Francklin's Earl of Warwick was performed at the Haymarket theatre in 1797, compassion for the Queen dominated the audience's viewing experience: (54) a review printed in the London Chronicle on February 9, 1797, told how Sarah Yates's portrayal of Margaret "was received with much feeling" and "drew tears from almost every eye." (55) Arguably, this innovative response to Francklin's heroine reflects the magnification in 1797 of the more maternal facet of Margaret's character that, in both the script and the preceding performances, had been recognized as merely peripheral. If in 1784 "the distracted mother" had been obfuscated by "the fell serpent," in 1797 the case was reversed, and it was maternity, as opposed to malignity, that became Margaret's defining feature. This change in interpretation, I argue, was influenced most crucially by audiences' knowledge of the familial grief suffered by Yates in August 1796.

"A Most Shocking Circumstance": Sarah Yates's Widowhood and the Benefit Performance of Francklin's Earl of Warwick

On August 23, 1796, the General Evening Post printed an article reporting on a shooting which had occurred at a home in Pimlico the previous afternoon. The report read as follows:
   Yesterday afternoon, between four and five o'clock, a most shocking
   circumstance took place at the house of the late Mr. Yates,
   comedian, on the Terrace in Pimlico. Mr. [Thomas] Yates, his
   nephew, after he had dined, took a walk in the garden at the back
   of the house; on his return to the door, he found it fast, and
   could not gain admittance till the servant girl formed a plan to
   get him in at the kitchen window. The persons who were in the
   house, and had fastened Mr. Yates out, discovering it, went into
   the kitchen, and, finding that Mr. Y was likely to gain admittance,
   one of them fired a pistol, the ball from which entered the right
   side of Mr. Y.... Three persons who were in the house were secured,
   one of whom is a young woman.... Mr. Yates ... was living at the
   time of the examination ... but supposed to be mortally wounded.

Lieutenant Thomas Yates, the subject of the report, was Sarah Yates's husband. He died shortly after the shooting, from a wound to his liver. (57) Mr. Yates's murder came as a result of a dispute over the rightful ownership of the house in Pimlico, which had formerly belonged to Thomas's uncle, the famous comedian Richard Yates. Elizabeth Jones, the "young woman" mentioned in the report, believed that she was the rightful inheritor of the home. Jones had been an actress in Richard Yates's theatre company in Birmingham, and she claimed that the comedian and she were very close and shared a father-daughter type relationship. (58) Thomas Yates was adamant that he too had a claim to the house, and, in the absence of legal documents confirming either way, Jones and Yates inhabited the home together for a period of several months. (59) Sarah Yates had been living in Bath at the time, where she was employed as a provincial actress. It was the day after Sarah joined her husband in Pimlico that the murder took place. On the night of August 21, two men, named Sellers and Footney, were sent by an Attorney to the home in Pimlico, with the supposed intention of looking after Miss Jones. Jones was believed to be under threat from Mr. Yates, who had lost his temper with her in the past. (60) Both men considered Jones to be the rightful owner of the house, and on August 22, shortly after the heavily pregnant Sarah Yates had gone out in a coach to get some air, Sellers and Footney locked Thomas Yates out of the house. When he tried to reenter, Sellers shot him dead. (61)

Thomas Yates's death left Sarah with a number of children to look after, and another on the way. (62) In direct response to her husbands murder, permission was granted by the Lord Chamberlain for The Earl of Warwick to be performed at George Colman's Haymarket theatre, outside of its regular summer season, for the benefit of Mrs. Yates. (63) Yates had previously acted as Francklin's Margaret in performances staged at York and Bath in 1795 and 1796. It was a role with which, in the provinces, Yates had made a name for herself, and it was presumably for this reason that it was selected for her benefit performance in London. (64) Inviting the widowed Yates to London to perform the role of a savage and bloodthirsty French woman carried with it two potential risks: first, Yates's decision to leave her children without a parent in her hometown of Bath in order to perform in the prestigious London theatre rendered her liable to accusations of unwomanly ambition and domestic neglect; second, Yates's portrayal of a heroine resembling the "Gallic freaks" causing chaos in revolutionary France threatened to sit uncomfortably with political loyalists and gender conservatives, who feared British women's emulation of their "unsex'd" counterparts. Each risk was annulled, however, by the publicity given to Yates's private circumstances, in both an address delivered at the close of The Earl of Warwick and in advertisements printed in British newspapers prior to the tragedy's revival. It is to the address, and the defence with which it provided Yates against charges of feminine impropriety, that I direct my attention first.

"To You the Little Innocents Appeal": Unwomanly Ambition, Maternal Devotion, and the Eighteenth-Century Actress

The eighteenth-century actress's subversion of prescribed female behavior has received considerable attention in theatre scholarship of the last two and half decades. (65) In her pioneering study of the actress's position and perception in eighteenth-century society, Kristina Straub comprehensively illustrates the female performer's violation of the established divide between the public world occupied by men and the private realms allocated to women, and traces her possession of a form of "professional ambition" considered a "perversion--of normal' feminine sexuality." (66) While it was the province of men to aspire to greatness and establish themselves in the public world, women were praised for their modesty, reserve, and contentment in their private setting. (67) Hence, the anonymous author of The Female Aegis; or the Duties of Women from Childhood to Old Age (1798) instructed readers that "female ambition" is acceptable only when directed toward "attaining those virtues which are the principal ornaments of your sex. Cherish your instructive modesty; and look upon it as your highest commendation not to be the subject of public discourse." (68) Acknowledging that "women in any profession were subject to suspicion for their unwomanly ambition," Celestine Woo proposes that the actress's public aspirations "needed to be countered with vigorous assurances" of "'femininity' in other areas." (69) By the final quarter of the century, these assurances were most commonly provided by the actress's depiction of herself as a loving and devoted mother. (70)

The image of the actress and that of the maternal ideal were, in one sense, entirely incompatible: the very nature of her profession required the actress to abandon the home in favour of the stage. As a consequence, the actress was frequently accused of abnegating her maternal duties and thus of being a bad mother. An instance of this charge is illustrated in Ann Catherine Holbrook's memoirs The Dramatist (1809), in which the author declares,
   An actress can never make her children comfortable; ... the poor
   infants, when the Theatre calls, must be left in the care of some
   sour old woman, who shakes and scolds them into fits. (71)

Directing a similar criticism against herself that same year, the famous breeches actress Dorothy Jordan lamented in a letter to the Duke of Clarence that "in endeavouring to perform one duty"--her role as an actress--"I have, I feel, neglected one still more splendid": her responsibility to her children. (72) As Holbrook and Jordan suggest, the performing mother necessarily sacrificed her familial loyalties in order to maintain and advance her theatrical career. Unable to be in two places at once, the mother had to choose between the theatre and the home--the public and the private--and if she chose the former, she could expect to be indicted for sexual transgression and maternal neglect.

Despite, however, the evident discrepancies between the ambitious eighteenth-century actress and the devoted mother, the two roles were not entirely incapable of harmonious alignment. As Brooks has shown, "rather than being contradictory, the image of an actress as a 'good mother' and her professional identity" were able to work "together to offer a more complex image of maternity" in which being a good mother was "compatible with economic and physical labor." (73) If the actress could prove her professionalism to be fuelled by maternal incentives, she could evade accusations of unwomanly ambition and domestic abandonment by negotiating a symbiotic relationship between her success as an actress and her duties as a mother. Nowhere was this standpoint demonstrated more explicitly in the eighteenth century than in Sarah Siddons's famous "Three Reasons" speech delivered at the Theatre Royal Bath in 1782 following her performance in Ambrose Philips's The Distressed Mother (1712).

The Distressed Mother marked Siddonss farewell performance in Bath, which came as a result of her decision to leave the provincial theatre to join Drury Lane. Aware that the lucrative move to London rendered her susceptible to charges of unfeminine ambition, Siddons prepared an address, to be spoken at the close of the play, which framed her employment in London as a choice made wholly for the sake of her children. Following the scripts performance, a visibly pregnant Siddons was joined on stage by her three young children, while she spoke the lines,
   These are the moles that heave me from your side,
   ... Ye little magnets, whose strong influence draws
   Me from a point where every gentle breeze
   Wafted my bark to happiness and ease;
   Sends me advent'rous on a larger main,
   In hopes that you may profit by my gain!--
   Have I been hasty? Am I there to blame?
   Answer all ye who own a parents name. (74)

As Jan MacDonald has suggested, the speech fashions Siddons "as a good and caring mother who in happier circumstances would have shunned public life and relished domesticity, but whom financial constraints had forced into employment in the theatre in order to support the offspring she adored." (75) Owing to her husband's tendency to ill health, Siddons was the main provider of her family's income. (76) Placed under pressure to secure, independently, her family's financial stability, Siddons's advancement of her public profession was requisite to her role as good mother. As her epilogue insists, it is not for herself that she is becoming "adventurous on a larger main" but for the benefit of her children, who she appreciates will "profit from [her] gain." By painting her deviation from feminine norms as an extension of her indefatigable loyalty to her family, Siddons's biographer, Thomas Campbell, was able to declare subsequently that Siddons's success as an actress derived in large part from her being "too affectionate a mother not to be anxious for the gains that were to secure [her children's] independence." (77) As Campbell's statement suggests, Siddons's career choice was viewed not as a rejection of her maternal loyalties, but as an active reinforcement of them.

Just as Siddons was under pressure to defend her motives when deserting Bath for the London stage in 1782, the widowed Yates could similarly be accused of indecorum when she acted in London in 1797. Leaving her children parentless in Bath to perform in the acclaimed London arena, Yates was liable to the very criticisms levelled against Holbrook's acting mother, as she too proved willing to place her children in the hands of a non-parental guardian as soon as "the theatre call[ed]." Yates distinguished herself from Holbrook's image, however, using a form of self-dramatization almost identical to that employed by Siddons a decade previously. Added to the 1797 performance of The Earl of Warwick was an address spoken by Sarah Yates, alerting audiences to her status as a widowed mother. Returning to the stage at the close of the play, dressed in mourning garb, Yates delivered the lines,
   Fain would I speak:--alas! these rising tears
   Must plead the Orphans cause, the Widows tears.
   To you, the little Innocents appeal,
   And lift their trembling hands with grateful zeal:
   Robb'd of a parent, ere they knew his worth,
   Each pleasing prospect clouded in its birth;
   Oh, may their hard and hapless lot attain
   Your kind protection. (78)

As in Siddons's "Three Reasons," attention is turned toward Yates's dedication to her family. It is not the masculine desire for public approbation that has positioned Yates on the stage, but rather her desperation to provide independently for her "little innocents," who have been subjected to a "hard and hapless lot" since being "Robbd of a parent." Exemplifying Ellen Donkin's observation that throughout the eighteenth century "family emergency was a necessary precondition for many women to justify their venturing outside of the home," both Siddons and Yates cultivate an image of themselves as self-reliant parents, impelled to advance in their public careers through no choice of their own, but through the necessities of familial circumstance. (79)

It is possible to suggest that these same maternal sentiments that secure Yates's respectability as an actress condone her character's foray into battle. Arguably, Francklin's Margaret personifies the two contrary types of eighteenth-century actress outlined in this discussion: power hungry and masculine on the one hand, Margaret can alternatively be viewed, like Yates herself, as a devoted and desperate mother, whose masculine role is carried out for entirely feminine purposes. While it is the former characterization that takes precedence in the script, and was suggestively foregrounded in the earlier performances, knowledge of Yates's genuine status as a widowed mother, forced into the public arena out of love for her children, potentially enables her character to be interpreted in this same, acceptably feminine mould. In order to substantiate this theory, I precede my return to Francklin's script with an exploration of Yates's presentation in advertisements for the tragedy printed in British newspapers. Then, analyzing her depiction in the press in light of late eighteenth-century acting theory, I show how the same familial circumstances that excuse Yates's unfeminine behaviour simultaneously justify Margaret's unwomanly actions on the battlefield.

"The Melancholy Catastrophe of Mr Thomas Yates": Sarah Yates's Domestic Distress and Its Publicity in British Newspapers

Theatregoers' knowledge of Yates's private grief was not withheld until the end of The Earl of Warwick. Rather, the actress's domestic situation was communicated previously in advertisements for the tragedy. Newspaper articles publicizing the play emphasized Yates's recent widowhood, and exhorted audiences to attend the tragedy with the express aim of "succour[ing] the distresses of [Mr. Yates's] widow and orphan children." (80) Announcing the upcoming production on February 7, 1797, an article printed in the Oracle and Public Advertiser read,
   With the circumstances attending the death of her husband the
   public are sufficiently acquainted.... They interested all who
   could feel for misfortune.... the widow of Mr. Yates is shut out
   from the pecuniary provision that was concluded to have been made
   for her.... Mrs. Yates has powers as an actress; the public are
   never insensible to suffering merit, fairly submitted to their
   humanity. On Thursday, therefore, at Colman's Theatre ... the play
   of the Earl of Warwick will be performed...for her benefit.... A
   British Public needs only to be shewn [sic] where it can aid the
   Fatherless and the Widow. (81)

As with the Address, the advert assures readers of Yates's feminine propriety, despite her public occupation, by illuminating her need to compensate for the "pecuniary provision" from which both she and her children have been "shut out." It is not simply the audiences' perception of Yates as an actress, however, that is determined by the article, but their perception of her character too. Read in the context of late eighteenth-century acting theory, the emphasis placed upon Yates's personal "misfortune" preconditions theatre audiences to pity her character before the performance has even begun. Anticipating, through the voice of Margaret, the portrayal of the actress's genuine affliction, to which "all who [can] feel" cannot be "insensible," audiences premeditate a response to Yates's character which befits the "suffering" performer regardless of the role she is set to exhibit on stage.

A similar advertisement for the tragedy was printed in the Morning Chronicle on February 8. Again foregrounding Yates's domestic grief, the advert declared,
   The public cannot have forgot the melancholy catastrophe of Mr.
   Yates. His death devoted his widow and his family to ruin; ... A
   play is to be performed for their benefit to-morrow evening, at the
   Haymarket Theatre, in which Mrs. Yates is herself to appear in the
   principal character. We sincerely hope that she will experience in
   public kindness some consolation for her heavy loss. (82)

Implored to show "kindness" and "consolation" to the actress following her "heavy loss," audiences' expectations are once more geared toward the pathetic: the audience attend the theatre envisaging not the exhibition of a savage and villainous Queen, but the emotional outpourings of an afflicted widow and struggling mother. Consequently, the aspects of Margaret's identity that are aligned most closely with this anticipated characterization strike a chord with the audience: keen to detect in Margaret sentiments that allude explicitly to Yates's own situation, audiences dwell upon Margaret's expressions of familial distress more than they do her less compatible character traits, and her sentimental protestations of maternal anxiety resultantly overshadow her unfeminine attributes. It is with these expectations in mind that I now return to Francklin's script and demonstrate the potential for Margaret to be interpreted, in accordance with Yates, as a grieving wife and unflinchingly loyal mother.

"Weeping Mothers Shall Applaud": The Actress, The Warrior, and the "Desp'rate Mother"

As suggested previously, Francklin's Margaret can be seen to embody the dichotomous identities on offer to the eighteenth-century actress. On the one hand, she is a woman hungry for fame and public approbation. She is described by Warwick as an "enterprising woman" whose "active mind is ever on the wing / In search of fresh expedients, to recover / The crown she lost." (83) Consonant with this, Margaret's motivation to have Warwick and Edward killed is shown to rise fundamentally from her desire to win back the authority she held before Warwick "robb'd [her] of a crown, / And plac'd it on a proud usurper's head." (84) Intimating her lust to reacquire her Queenly privileges, Margaret confesses that "crowns / Are dazzling meteors in a woman's eye; / Such strong temptations, few of us, I fear, / Have virtue to resist." (85) She later informs Clifford of her desire to see "one or both" of her enemies fall so that "Marg'ret [shall] rise triumphant on their ruin," before expressing her aspiration to regain "the throne of England" and grow "superior in the lists of fame." (86) Driven by the wish of establishing herself as "the people's idol," and declaring that there is nothing that "unrestrain'd ambition will not do," Margaret raises "a pow'rful army" and, "elate with pride / And almost sure of victory," enters into battle with Edward's troops. (87)

While this characterization of Margaret likens her to the selfishly ambitious actress, whose actions are motivated by yearnings for public notoriety, it is possible to locate in Margaret a concurrent, though less explicit, affiliation with the respectable and selfless eighteenth-century actress, whose pubic role is fuelled by maternal incentives. Margaret's savage proclamations of merciless ambition are sparingly interspersed with tender references to her young son. Early on in the play, Margaret hints at her strong maternal sentiments when demanding King Edward that he must "give me back my son--/ Or dread the vengeance of a desp'rate mother." (88) Later, when Clifford asks Margaret "what becomes of the young prince?" Margaret again evidences her maternal concerns, when answering that she is "indeed unhappy" before begging nature to "hear / A mothers prayer!" and to "teach [her] how to save [her] darling boy." (89) While occupying less room in the text than Margaret's contrasting expressions of rage and ruthlessness, the Queen's references to her son imply that her masculine behaviour is not entirely destitute of feminine motivation: the war she goes on to wage against Edward's troops seeks not only to restore "Lancaster's great name" but also to "save [her] darling boy" from Edward's captivity. (90)

Margaret's characterization as a "desp'rate mother" is conveyed most overtly following the battle against Edward's army, during which Margaret's son is killed by Warwick. Her child's murder at the hands of the protagonist provides Margaret with a dual cause for vengeance, which again amalgamates unfeminine covetousness with maternal affection, and, in this case, bereavement: justifying her slaughter of the man who has not only left her "bereft of honour" and "fortune" but has also "basely mutrher'd [her] sweet boy," Margaret declares,
                         thou wilt call me base,
   Blood thirsty, cruel, savage, and revengeful,
   But here I stand acquitted to myself,
   And evr'y feeling heart that knows my wrongs.--
   To late posterity dethroned queens
   And weeping mothers shall applaud my justice. (91)

Margaret's brutal slaughter of Warwick is incited by his role in positioning her as both a "dethroned Queen" and a "weeping mother." The binary incentives prompting the murder attest to Margaret's resemblance to both the subversive eighteenth-century actress, who seeks public praise and power, and the dutiful acting mother, who reluctantly deviates from feminine norms in order to fulfil her maternal responsibilities. If, in previous performances, Margaret had been aligned most closely with the former figure and had failed to "steal into the heart" of the audience on account of her transcendent conceit and malignity, in 1797 it is not "the haughty Queen" but the "desp'rate mother" that takes center stage.

The details of Yates's domestic circumstances published in the newspapers encourage each scene in which Margaret appears to be viewed through a sentimental lens. In her opening scene, the audience's shock at Margaret's communication of her savage "hope of vengeance" and her plan "to conquer men" is subordinate to the pity they feel when she references the "dark cloud of grief" and lists herself among "the daughters of affliction": these melancholy expressions stand out when delivered by Yates, as the audience recognize the authentic foundation from which the emotions spring. (92) Similarly, aware during her dialogue with Warwick that Margaret has artfully "flatter'd, sooth'd, provok'd, / And wrought" the Earl to her purpose, the audience are less appalled by Margaret's dissimulation than they are moved by her communication of spousal grief: Margaret's claim during the dialogue that she has grown "inur'd to wretchedness" and "familiar with misfortune" since Henry was consigned to "languish in a dungeon" enables the audience to blend Henry's imprisonment with Thomas Yates's death, and thus to conflate the "life of woe" described by Margaret with that experienced by Yates. (93) By extension, when Margaret beholds "the pale corse of [her] poor bleeding child," then draws "a poniard forth, and plung[es] it in [Warwick's] heart," audiences interpret her not as a "base / bloodthirsty, cruel" and "savage" amazon, but rather, like Yates herself, as a relentlessly loyal and "desp'rate mother" who, having been deprived of a husband, must herself venture into the public sphere and transgress sexual boundaries for the sake of her "little innocents."

Consequently, just as Yates is aligned with the acceptably feminine actress, Margaret acquires an affiliation with the acceptably feminine female warrior. In 1790, the Aberdeen Magazine printed an article written by Scottish author James Beattie, which distinguished between two contrary types of martial woman. Beattie declared that
   Masculine boldness in a woman is disagreeable; the term virago
   conveys an offensive idea. The female warriors of antiquity ...
   were unamiable personages.... But female courage exerted in
   defence of a child, [or] a husband ... would be true fortitude, and
   deserve the highest encomiums. (94)

Beattie makes a clear distinction between the "disagreeable" and "offensive" female warrior, who, like the "unsexd" women of France, shuns the character peculiar to her sex, and the commendable female soldier, whose military actions indicate her loyalty and dedication to her family. On account of casting choices, it is the latter figure that Yates's Margaret resembles. Aware of Yates's genuine domestic suffering, Margarets parallel sentiments elicit a superlative emotional response from theatregoers, who forget that it is Margaret, and not Yates herself, toward whom their sympathies are being directed. With the real and the illusory having merged, Margaret evades association with the "unamiable" virago, as maternal affection for her son is foregrounded as the primary catalyst for her military actions.

Despite the disparity, then, between Francklin's script and the sentimentalized depictions of Margaret that rose to prevalence in dramas of the 1790s, The Earl of Warwick, when exhibited in 1797, can be identified as yet another performance which emphasizes the Queens "redeeming maternal side," and in so doing enhances her compliance with the period's feminine ideal. (95) While informing audiences of Yates's familial devotion subsequent to the performance ensures Yates's own reputation as a decorous actress, the circulation of these same details prior to the performance dictates Margaret's characterization as a sentimental and acceptably feminine female warrior. As in Nussbaum's theory, "the actress's character on stage was confused with the woman herself," and both Yates and Margaret

become objects of compassion, whose unwomanly actions are seen not to prohibit, but, contrarily, to enable the fulfilment of their assigned familial duties:96 just as Yates is forced by motherhood to abandon the feminine realms of the home for the masculine province of the public sphere, the audience perceive Margaret as a woman who is comparatively impelled to cross sexual boundaries, not because she is unfeminine or "unsex'd" but because, like the actress embodying her, she too is a "weeping" and "desp'rate mother."


University of York, UK


(1) Julia Swindells, Glorious Causes: The Grand Theatre of Political Change, 1789 to 1833 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 141, 139.

(2) David Worrall, Celebrity, Performance, Reception: British Georgian Theatre as Social Assemblage (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 9.

(3) Worrall, Celebrity, 10.

(4) Swindells, Glorious Causes, 139.

(5) On the importance of Shakespeare's tragedy to Margarets notoriety in Britain see PatriciaAnn Lee, "Reflections of Power: Margaret of Anjou and the Dark Side of Queenship," Renaissance Quarterly 39 (1986): 183-217 (183-84).

(6) William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 3, ed. John D. Cox and Eric Rasmussen (London: Arden, 2001), 1.4.114; 2.1.122; 1.4.142.

(7) Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 3, 1.4.111.

(8) Dror Wahrman, The Making of the Modern Self (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), 15-16.

(9) Ibid., 16.

(10) On the reasons for shifting attitudes toward Margaret, and amazons in general, see ibid., 3-82.

(11) Worrall, Celebrity, 183. Worrall's study focuses primarily on the 1793 revision of Edward Jerninghams "Margaret of Anjou: An Historical Interlude."

(12) See George Colman, The Battle of Hexham (Dublin: P. Byrne, 1790), 1.4.19; Edward Jerninghams "Margaret of Anjou: An Historical Interlude," in Fugitive Poetical Pieces (London: J. Robinson, 1778); and Richard Valpy, The Roses: Or King Henry VI, An Historical Tragedy (Reading: Smart and Cowslade, 1795), 2.3.47-48.

(13) Richard Polwhele, The Unsex'd Females: A poem, addressed to the author of the pursuits of literature (New York: Reprinted by William Cobbett, 1800), v, 8. On French womens armed activism and reputation for savagery and violence see Lynn Hunt, The Family Romance of the French Revolution (London: Routledge, 1992), 116-18; Olwen Hutton, Women and the Limits of Citizenship in the French Revolution (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992), 1-50; and Darline Gay Levy and Harriet B. Applewhite, "Women and Militant Citizenship in Revolutionary Paris," in Rebel Daughters: Women and the French Revolution, ed. Sara E. Melzer and Leslie W. Rabine (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 83-85.

(14) John Adams, Woman: Sketches of the history, genius, disposition accomplishments, employments, customs and importance of the fair sex, in all parts of the world (London: G. Kearsley, 1790), 9. On enhanced animosity in Britain toward female warriors and politicians, and on the concurrent increase in literature encouraging womens familial duties, see Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation (New York: Yale University Press, 1994), 237-82; and Catherine Craft-Fairchild, "Cross-Dressing and the Novel: Women Warriors and Domestic Femininity," Eighteenth-Century Fiction 10 (1998), 171-202.

(15) The most notorious indictment of Frances political and military women is offered in Edmund Burkes Reflections on the Revolution in France (London: J. Dodsley, 1790), 105-6. For further examples see Claudia Johnson, Equivocal Beings: Gender, Politics and Sentimentality in the 1790s (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 1-19.

(16) Hannah More, Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education (London: T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1799), 1:127, 6.

(17) Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 3, 1.4.217.

(18) On censorship in London during the French revolution see L. W. Connolly, The Censorship of the English Drama 1737-1824 (San Marino: Huntington Library, 1976), 83-106.

(19) Review of Thomas Francklins The Earl of Warwick, in Theatrical Inquisitor and Monthly Mirror, December 1816, 447.

(20) Thomas Francklin, The Earl of Warwick: A Tragedy (London: John Bell, 1766), 5.2 (64); 1.1 (8, 11); 4.3 (51); 5.3 (69). References are to act, scene, and page number.

(21) The Haymarket performance was the only full length version of The Earl of Warwick to be staged in London in the 1790s, though a condensed version of the play was staged at Covent Garden in May 1796. As far as I am aware there are no existing reviews of this performance.

(22) Elizabeth Inchbald, "Remarks" to Thomas Francklins The Earl of Warwick, in The British Theatre; or a collection of plays (London: Longman, 1808), 19:5.

(23) Wahrman, Modern Self, 16.

(24) Marvin Carlson, The Haunted Stage: The Theatre as Memory Machine (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2003), 52-53.

(25) Michael Quinn, "Celebrity and the Semiotics of Acting," New Theatre Quarterly 6 (1990), 156, 155.

(26) Quinn, "Celebrity," 156, 157.

(27) Felicity Nussbaum, Rival Queens: Actresses, Performance, and the Eighteenth-Century British Theatre (Oxford: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), 21.

(28) Nussbaum, Rival Queens, 16, 20, 21.

(29) Helen Brooks, Actresses, Gender and the Eighteenth-Century Stage: Playing Women (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), 96.

(30) Before appearing in The Earl of Warwick, Sarah Yates performed twice in London, in 1794. She played the Yorkshire circuit between 1794 and 1795, and was based in Bath and Bristol throughout the 1796-97 season. She belonged to the Crow Street Theatre, Dublin, between 1797-99; she later performed at Liverpool, then returned to perform in London in 1800. See A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers, and Other Stage Personnel, ed. Philip Highfill, Kalman Burnim, and Edward Langhams (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1993), 16:339.

(31) Thomas Wilkes, A General View of the Stage (London: J. Coote, 1759), 92.

(32) Richard Flecknoe, A Short Discourse of the English Stage (1664), as quoted in Wahrman, Modern Self, 170.

(33) Anon., "Essay on the Theatres: or, the Art of Acting, in Imitation of Horaces Art of Poetry," in The Harleian Miscellany or, a collection of rare, curious and entertaining pamphlets and tracts (London: T. Osbourne, 1744), 5:548.

(34) Joseph Roach, The Player's Passion: Studies in the Science of Acting (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1985), 41. See also Shearer West, The Image of the Actor: Verbal and Visual Representation in the Age of Garrick and Kemble (London: Pinter Publishers, 1991), 58-61; and Wahrman, Modern Self, 167-71.

(35) William Worthen, The Idea of the Actor: Drama and the Ethics of Performance (Surrey: Princeton University Press, 1984), 85.

(36) E. J. Hundbert, "The European Enlightenment and the History of the Self," in Rewriting the Self: Histories from the Middle Ages to the Present, ed. Roy Porter (London: Routledge, 1997), 78; Wahrman, Modern Self, 203. See also Matthew H. Wikander, Fangs of Malice: Hypocrisy, Sincerity and Acting (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2002), 74-76.

(37) Wahrman, Modern Self, 275, 290, 291.

(38) Lionel Trilling, Sincerity and Authenticity (London: Oxford University Press, 1972), 64.

(39) Brooks, Actresses, 164nll.

(40) Ibid., 99.

(41) Ibid., 100.

(42) Sarah Siddons to Penelope Pennington, August 1798, in An Artist's Love Story: Told in the Letters of Sir Thomas Lawrence, Mrs. Siddons, and Her Daughters, ed. Oswald G. Knapp (London: George Allen, 1905), 59.

(43) Jan MacDonald notes that this perception of acting offered an early version of "what Stanislavsky over a century later was to call the technique of'emotion memory,' that is the use of the recollection of one's own deeply felt experiences in the creation of a theatrical persona." See Jan MacDonald, "Acting and the Austere Joys of Motherhood: Sarah Siddons performs Maternity," in Extraordinary Actors: Studies in Honour of Peter Thompson, ed. Jane Milling and Martin Banham (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2004), 60.

(44) Brooks, Actresses, 98-99.

(45) Nussbaum, Rival Queens, 10.

(46) Francklin, Earl of Warwick, 1.1 (7).

(47) Ibid., 5.3 (69).

(48) Ibid., 3.1 (36).

(49) Ibid., 5.3 (70, 68).

(50) See Francis Gentleman, The Theatres: A Poetical Dissection (London: John Bell, 1772), 80; and F. B. L., The Rational Rosciad: On a more extensive plan than anything of the kind hitherto published (London: C. Parker, 1767), 26.

(51) See Thomas Davies, Memoirs of the life of David Garrick, Esq. Interspersed with characters and anecdotes of his theatrical contemporaries: The whole forming a history of the stage, which includes a period of thirty-six years. (Dublin: Joseph Hill, 1780), 131; and F. B. L. Rational Rosciad, 26.

(52) For reviews commenting on Siddons's pity inspiring abilities see Thomas Young, The Siddoniad: A characteristical and critical poem (Dublin: R. Marchbank, 1784), 16; and John O'Keefe's humorous "Account of Mrs Siddons's first reception in Dublin," in Edwin's Pills to purge Melancholy: containing all the songs sung by Mr. Edwin, Of Covent-Garden Theatre, since his first appearance in London (London: William Holland, 1789), v-vi.

(53) Lady of Distinction, The Beauties of Mrs Siddons: or a review of her Performance of the characters of Belvidera, Zara, Isabella, Margaret of Anjou, Jane Shore and Lady Randolph (London: John Strahan, 1786), 39, 32, 33, 40, 39. This response to Siddons's Margaret clashes with Wahrman's suggestion that Margaret was sentimentalized in performances following the American Revolution.

(54) Review of The Earl of Warwick printed in The Monthly Review: or Literary Journal, December 1766, 484.

(55) London Chronicle, February 9, 1797.

(56) General Evening Post, August 20, 1796.

(57) See "City of Westminster's Coroner's inquests into suspicious deaths," August 24, 1796, London Lives, 1690-1800,, WACWIC652360498.

(58) See Bell's Weekly Messenger, September 18, 1796; Morning Chronicle, September 17, 1796. On Jones's acting career see Biographical Dictionary, ed. Highfill, Burnim, and Langhams, 8:232-33. Jones is recorded to have performed in London just once, in 1794.

(59) See Evening Mail, September 16-19, 1796.

(60) An account given in Bell's Weekly Messenger September 18, 1796 states that Mr. Yates had once attacked Miss Jones with a poker and knocked her to the floor.

(61) See Evening Mail, September 16-19, 1796; see also Society of Gentlemen, The Counsellor's Magazine; or a Complete library for barristers, conveyancers, attornies, solicitors, clerks, students and others (London: W and J Stratford, 1796); Elizabeth Jones, The Trial of Miss Jones and Messrs: Sellers and Footney, for the murder of Mr Thomas Yates, at Stafford Row, Pimlico (Drury Lane: A. McPherson, 1796); and "A True and Particular Account of the murder which was committed on Monday last, August 22, at Pimlico," Bodleian library, no. 11934.

(62) There are conflicting reports concerning Sarah Yates's number of children. The Morning Post and Fashionable World claimed Sarah to be "far advanced in her pregnancy of a sixth child" at the time of her husband's murder. See Morning Post and Fashionable World, August 27,1796. In an interview with a witness of Mr. Yates's murder, however, Mr. Aaron Graham claimed that she had two children. See "John Sellers, Old Bailey Defendant," Old Bailey Proceedings: Accounts of Criminal Trails, September 14, 1794, London Lives, 1690-1800,, U7960914-5.

(63) Haymarket's Royal patent was valid only during the summer season. Conventionally therefore, Colman had to await the close of the winter theatres, Drury Lane and Covent Garden, before staging any dramas. However, permission was given by the Lord Chamberlain on exceptional occasions for benefit performances to be staged at Haymarket out of season, particularly if the benefit was for a charity, or for a family in distress. See Charles Beecher Hogan, The London Stage, 1776-1800: A Critical Introduction (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1968), cxxxii. See also William J. Burling, The Summer Theatre in London, 1661-1820: The Rise of the Haymarket Theatre (Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2000).

(64) See entry on Sarah Yates in Biographical Dictionary, ed. Highfill, Burnim and Langhams, 16:339; see also Theatre Royal Bath: The Orchard Street Calendar 1750-1805, ed. Arnold Hare (Bath: Kingsmead Press, 1977), 161. As far as I am aware there are no surviving reviews of these provincial performances that detail Yates's portrayal of Margaret.

(65) See especially Kristina Straub, Sexual Suspects: Eighteenth-Century Players and Sexual Ideology (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992); Shearer West, "The Public and Private Roles of Sarah Siddons," in A Passion for Performance: Sarah Siddons and her Portraitists (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1999), 1-39; and Gill Perry, "Ambiguity and Desire: Metaphors of Sexuality in Late Eighteenth-Century Representations of the Actress," in Notorious Muse: The Actress in British Art and Culture, ed. Robyn Asleson (London: Paul Mellon Centre, 2003), 57-80.

(66) Straub, Sexual Suspects, 98.

(67) See Nancy Armstrong, Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987).

(68) Anon., The Female Aegis; or the Duties of Women from childhood to old age, and in most situations of life, exemplified (London: Sampson Low, 1798), 121-22.

(69) Celestine Woo, Romantic Actors and Bardolatry: Performing Shakespeare from Garrick to Kean (New York: Peter Lang, 2008), 89.

(70) A number of recent publications have emphasised the complex relationship between actresses and motherhood. See in particular the compilation of essays published in Stage Mothers: Women, Work and the Theatre 1660-1830, ed. Elaine McGirr and Laura Engel (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2014).

(71) Ann Catherine Holbrook, The Dramatist, or Memoirs of the Stage (Birmingham: Martin and Hunter, 1809), 60.

(72) Letter from Dorothy Jordan to William, Duke of Clarence, June 1809, Huntington Letters, quoted in Brooks, Actresses, 128.

(73) Helen Brooks, '"The Divided Heart of the Actress': Late Eighteenth-Century Actresses and the Cult of Maternity," in Stage Mothers, ed. McGirr and Engel, 35.

(74) "An Address: Written and Spoken by Mrs Siddons, when she Produced to the Audience her Three Reasons for Quitting the Bath Theatre," in The British Magazine and Review (London: Harrison and Co., 1782-1783), 3:63.

(75) MacDonald, "Acting," 62. For further discussions of this speech, and of Siddons's performance of authentic motherhood on stage, see Linda Buchanan, "Sarah Siddons and her Place in Rhetorical History," Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric 25, no. 4 (Autumn 2007), 428-34; Brooks, Actresses, 117-41; Brooks, '"Divided Heart,'" 19-42; West, "Public and Private," 6; and Woo, Romantic Actors, 99-100.

(76) See MacDonald, "Acting," 62.

(77) Thomas Campbell, The Life of Mrs Siddons (London: Effingham and Wilson, 1834), 2:133-34.

(78) "Occasional Address, Spoken by Mrs Yates, After the Tragedy of The Earl of Warwick. By Mr Roberts, The Artist," in True Briton, February 11, 1797.

(79) Ellen Donkin, Getting into the Act: Women Playwrights in London, 1776-1829 (New York: Routledge, 1995), 14.

(80) London Chronicle, February 9, 1797.

(81) Oracle and Public Advertiser, February 7, 1797.

(82) Morning Chronicle, February 8, 1797.

(83) Francklin, Earl of Warwick, 4.2 (50).

(84) Ibid., 5.3 (69).

(85) Ibid., 2.3 (32).

(86) Ibid., 1.1 (11); 2.3 (35).

(87) Ibid., 3.1 (31, 36); 4.2 (51); 5.2 (63).

(88) Ibid., 1.2(13).

(89) Ibid., 3.1 (38).

(90) Ibid., 2.6 (35).

(91) Ibid., 5.3 (69).

(92) Ibid., 1.1 (8, 7, 8).

(93) Ibid., 3.1 (35); 2.4 (28, 33).

(94) James Beattie, "On Fortitude," in The Aberdeen Magazine, Literary Chronicle and Review, 1788-1790 (Aberdeen: J. Chalmers, 1790), 3:107.

(95) Wahrman, Modern Self, 17.

(96) Nussbaum, Rival Queens, 45.
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