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Frances Maria Kelly Papers: Finding Aid
mssHM 62598-62775  
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This collection contains the papers of Frances Maria Kelly (1790-1882), a popular actress on the 19th century British stage, and includes 176 manuscript and correspondence items and 45 items of ephemera.
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 daughter—illegitimate 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.
221 items in 4 boxes and oversize folders.
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