Wemyss's Twenty-Six Years of the Life of an Actor and Manager (1847)

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Wemyss's Twenty-Six Years of the Life of an Actor and Manager (1847)


Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876
Macready, William Charles
Gender Norms
Actors and Actresses


Francis Courtney Wemyss is an actor and theater manager. The entry for Cushman envisions her as a business woman that cleverly paved her way to success by acquiring knowledge about the profession of an actress and the respective people involved in the business. Cushman is perceived as actively shaping her public image. Macready is mentioned as a key figure to success in England where she is predicted to make a career for herself. It is remarkable that contemporary observers already analyzed her success in 1847.


Hathi Trust


Burgess, Stringer and Company





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excerpt starting on page 335:

deserves more than a passing note. This young lady is a proof of what perseverance, steadily directed to one object, will accomplish; more especially where genius, giant-like, proceeds hand-in-hand along wit it. She commened her theatrical career as singer, announced as a pupil of Mr. Maeder, her voice pronounced to be of a mist extraordinary nature, rarely possessed by a female. [...] occupying the humble station of a walking lady at the Park Theatre, in New York, cheerfully performing any part allotted to her by the manager, at the same time closely studying the manners and peculiarities of all the European actors, male or female, with whom her position brought her in contact; and, as subsequently appears, carefully hoarding he knowledge of her art thus required for future action, yet not advancing with rapid strides in the favor of the audience, by whom she was tolerated, but not supposed to possess the talent hich they afterwards became proud to honor. Her masculine mind at once perceived, that the only means of success was to cultivate the acquaintance of the gentlemen conducting the newspapers ; fugitive pieces of poetry appeared in the papers, and in the popular periodical magazines, under the signature of 'Charlotte Cushman.' These answered the double purpose of placing her name before the public, as a lady of literary talent, and securing the notice of the publishers to her dramatic career. [...] The visit of Mr. Macready to the United States, and the high opinion he entertained of her merit as an actress, opened the road to London, where her success will secure not only renown, but fortune, on her return to her native country. Of late years it has become the fashion to place theatres under the direction of ladies, and Miss Cushman has figured as the manager of the American Theatre, in Walnut Street, under my successor, Mr. Marshall; but even the popularity of her name could not command success in such an undertaking, - here she proved incompetent."


New York City, USA

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Hathi, http://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015005173193, accessed 2020-01-22

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“Wemyss's Twenty-Six Years of the Life of an Actor and Manager (1847),” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed March 4, 2024, https://archivalgossip.com/collection/items/show/137.

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