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Inventory of the Frances Anne Kemble Papers, 1824-1892
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Subject matter

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Frances Anne Kemble Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1824-1892
    Creator: Kemble, Frances Anne
    Extent: 96 pieces
    Repository: The Huntington Library
    San Marino, California 91108
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    46 pieces acquired from Doris E. Harris in March, 1966; 50 pieces acquired from Mrs. Fraser Bonnell in November, 1976.


    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

    [Identification of item], Frances Anne Kemble Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Born in London on November 27, 1809, Frances Anne Kemble was one of five children of Charles and Marie Thérèse (De Camp) Kemble. A niece of Sarah Siddons and the daughter and granddaughter of actors, Frances followed her forebears into the theatre, achieving dramatic succes under the betterknown name of Fanny Kemble. After acting for three years in Covent Garden and throughout the British Isles, she travelled to the United States in 1832, making her American acting debut on September 18. This American tour marked the first of many trips she would make between England and the U.S. during her lifetime. Both personally and professionally Fanny was well liked in the U.S. throughout the years, winning large numbers of friends and acquaintances, as well as great popular acclaim for her performances. First appearing in plays and later presenting evenings of dramatic readings, Fanny continued to be in great demand for as many performances as she would consent to give.
    Fanny's first American tour came to a close when she married Pierce Mease Butler on June 7, 1834 in Philadelphia. Two daughters were born to Fanny -- Sarah (Butler) Wister, born in 1835, and Frances Anne (Butler) Leigh, born in 1838. The Butlers lived first at Butler Place, just outside Philadelphia, and later in the South, where Fanny observed firsthand the institution of slavery on her husband's plantation lands, her view influenced by abolitionist sympathies. Her anti-slavery feelings contributed to the break-up of her marriage and evoked much comment in 1862 upon the publication of her Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation. The years of her marriage were years of tensions and misunderstandings, of separations and reconciliations, for Fanny and her husband. By the time of their final separation, when Fanny was in England, she had begun appearing on the stage once more.
    In 1849 the granting of a divorce decree ended Fanny's marriage to Pierce Butler, whereupon she resumed her maiden name, returning to her dramatic readings now as Mrs. Fanny Kemble. From this time until 1877, she continued to divide her time between England and the United States, making the voyage at frequent intervals, as well as travelling to Italy. During these years Fanny continued her seasons of reading engagements and also turned to writing, publishing a series of articles entitled Old Women's Gossip in the Atlantic Monthly and gathering material for her memoirs.
    Late in 1877 Fanny left America for England for the last time and embarked on an active life of writing, social engagements and travel until her death on January 15, 1893.

    Subject matter

    • Manuscripts
      • Kemble, Frances Anne - poems:
        • Autumn - written after a ride by the Schuylkill
        • "Silence - instead of thy sweet song my Bird"
        • Lines Written by the Sea Side
        • Morning by the Sea
        • To Shakespeare
        • Written at Trenton
    • Documents
      • Kemble, Frances Anne
        • Ticket of admission for Readings from Shakespeare for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, [1849]
    • Correspondence (significant persons and those represented by 3 or more pieces)