Fanny Kemble


Biography of Fanny Kemble

Frances Anne Kemble (27 November 1809 - 15 January 1893) was a notable British actress from a theatre family in the early and mid-nineteenth century. She also was a well-known and popular writer, whose published works included plays, poetry, eleven volumes of memoirs, travel and works about the theatre. In 1834 she married an American, Pierce Mease Butler, heir to cotton, tobacco and rice plantations and hundreds of slaves on the Sea Islands of Georgia.

They spent the winter of 1838-1839 at the plantations, and Kemble kept a diary of her observations. She returned to the theatre after their separation in 1847 and toured major cities of the United States. Although her memoir circulated in abolitionist circles, Kemble waited until 1863, during the American Civil War, to publish her anti-slavery Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1838-1839. It has become her best-known work in the United States, although she published several other volumes of journals.

In 1877 Kemble returned to England at the same time as her second daughter and husband. She lived in London and was active in society, befriending the writer Henry James. In 2000, an edited compilation of her journals was published by Harvard University Press.

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