If I had my choice I would rather live forwards, that is, have my head in my hand (martyr fashion, which is an allegorical representation of what befalls people with a propensity for living before their time), and carry it in a little advance of my body. The majority of people are so prejudiced in favour of the stupid, common usage, and so ill-natured towards those who depart from it.’ Fanny Kemble, aged 53.
Nineteen year old Fanny Kemble became an overnight sensation as Shakespeare’s Juliet in 1829, thereby saving London’s Covent Garden theatre from bankrupcy. A prominent personality throughout the 19th century “the celebrated Mrs Kemble” was a prolific commentator on this fascinating era. A vivid account of the life of an 19th century actress and celebrity, this biography mines original source material to explore the character of the woman who produced one of the most important pre-Civil War anti-slavery texts, her 1830s account of life on her American husband’s slave plantations in Georgia.