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HM 62598-62775  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content Note
  • Indexing: Subjects
  • Indexing: Added Entries
  • Bibliography

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Frances Maria Kelly,
    Date (inclusive): 1800-1883
    Date (bulk): bulk dates: 1816-1849
    Collection number: HM 62598-62775
    Creator: Kelly, Frances Maria, 1800-1883
    Repository: The Huntington Library
    San Marino, California 91108
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information please go to following URL .

    Publication Rights

    In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the manuscripts or visual materials, researchers must obtain formal permission from the office of the Library Director. In most instances, permission is given by the Huntington as owner of the physical property rights only, and researchers must also obtain permission from the holder of the literary rights. In some instances, the Huntington owns the literary rights, as well as the physical property rights. Researchers may contact the appropriate curator for further information.

    Preferred Citation

    Frances Maria Kelly, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    This collection was purchased at Sotheby on July 22, 1969.
    The collection numbers 176 manuscript and correspondence items and 45 items of ephemera.
    Collection dates: 1800-1883; bulk dates: 1816-1849
    Call numbers: HM 62598-62775
    There are no restrictions on access.

    Biographical Note

    Frances Maria Kelly was born to Mark Kelly and Mary Jackson Kelly in 1790. Mary was already the young widow of an actor when she married Mark. Mark was a frustrated actor who could not support his family and finally abandoned them. Frances Maria Kelly's half sister, Anne (from Mary's first union), was an actress and singer until she married actor Charles Mathews whose biography she eventually wrote. Frances Maria Kelly acted in small parts at the age of ten while being taught and guided by her uncle, Michael Kelly. After more training for her acting and her voice she became better known and respected and, even as a child, began contributing to her family's finances. During her esteemed career she developed close acquaintances with Charles Dickens, the Duke of Devonshire, and the Earl of Essex. She maintained a close friendship with Charles Lamb who proposed marriage to her in 1819. She refused him and never married. In 1829, Frances Maria Kelly came to have a daughterillegitimate or adopted, it's still not clear. Her daughter, Mary Ellen Greville lived with Frances Maria until the actress's death in 1882 and became the executrix of her estate. After Frances Maria had retired from the stage in the 1830s she opened The Royal Dramatic School and Theater with the plan to support and encourage young actors. The school was never a financial success and in 1849 Frances Maria Kelly was forced to give it up. She lived out the rest of her life in relative poverty and died just before receiving the monetary prize associated with the Literary Fund award conferred on her by Queen Victoria.

    Scope and Content Note

    The correspondence in this collection deals with the social obligations and other concerns of an established actress in the 19 th century Great Britain. Frances Maria Kelly corresponded with Dukes and Countesses as well as actresses and writers. This collection also includes Frances Maria Kelly's Dramatic Recollections, a notebook filled with descriptions of her theatrical career.

    Indexing: Subjects

    Lamb, Charles, 1775-1834. Barbara S---. In Frances Maria Kelly, letter to Charles Kent, 1823-1902, (1875, Sep. 28). HM 62708.

    Indexing: Added Entries

    Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870. Addressee for Frances Maria Kelly, 1790-1882, (1849, Oct. 11). HM 62700.
    Lemon, Mark, 1809-1870. Addressee for Frances Maria Kelly, 1790-1882, (1849, Oct. 11). HM 62710.
    Mathews, Charles James, 1803-1878. Addressee for Frances Maria Kelly, 1790-1882, (1835-1849). HM 62714-62715.
    Reynolds, John Hamilton, 1794-1852. Addressee for D.B. Montagu, (1822, Apr. 9). HM 62742.
    Talfourd, Sir Thomas Noon, 1795-1854. Addressee for Frances Maria Kelly, 1790-1882, (1848, May). HM 62721.


    Burke's Peerage and Baronetage (London: Burke's Peerage, Ltd.)
    Dictionary of National Biography (London: Oxford University Press,[1965]).
    Francis, Basil. Fanny Kelly of Drury Lane (London: Rockliff Publishing Corporation Ltd.,1950).
    Hodder, George. Memories of my Time (London: Tinsley,1870).
    Holman, L.E. Lamb's Barbara S---: The Life of Frances Maria Kelly, Actress (London: Methuen & Co. Ltd.,1935).
    Oxberry, William. Oxberry's Dramatic Mirror (London: G. Virtue,1827).
    Whyte, Frederic. Actors of the Century (London: George Bell and Sons,1898).