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Bodies in Play: Maternity, Repertory, and the Rival Romeo and Juliets, 1748–51

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 April 2019

Extract

In her recent book on celebrity pregnancy, legal scholar Renée Ann Cramer writes, “in the years from 1970 to 2000, popular culture became more open to performances of pregnancy; once kept secret and articulated as private, pregnancy became ‘public.’” This is not wholly true. In the English-speaking world, “celebrity pregnancy,” with its overt performances of femininity and maternity, bodily monitoring, and careful dance between the concealment and revelation of private information, had its first public moment in the long eighteenth century. That century's professional theatre was a site for the intersection of two forms of women's labor: the maternal labor of pregnancy and birth, which affected women of all classes throughout a century with rapidly rising birth rates, and the theatrical labor of professional actresses. Although the latter has been the subject of much-needed study in recent decades, the impact of maternal labor on the professional theatre of the time is only beginning to be explored. Between 1700 and 1800, birth rates for middle- and upper-class British woman rose significantly. Among the aristocracy, rates doubled from four to eight children, and middle-class women averaged seven births by the end of the century. At the same time, women in the professional theatre were inventing and modeling new forms of public womanhood, capitalizing on a burgeoning culture of female celebrity, and, in some cases, wielding exceptional economic and artistic power. Though not all actresses had children, many did, and at rates that were not unlike those of their nontheatrical counterparts. For these women, the successful balancing of maternal and theatrical labor could be vital to their careers and, in many cases, their family's survival. The need to balance personal and professional demands was all the more imperative within the hectic and extremely competitive repertory system. The day-to-day repertory of a London company was of necessity a malleable thing, accommodating short runs of popular pieces, audience requests, illnesses and absences of company members, and the perpetual state of competition between the patent houses of Covent Garden and Drury Lane. To compete profitably, managers needed competent and popular performers (bodies) and performance vehicles (texts) in which to feature them. As the available bodies changed, then, so too did the available plays for performance.

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Copyright © American Society for Theatre Research 2019 

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Footnotes

Many thanks to all those who offered insight and feedback on this article, including Marlis Schweitzer, David Brewer, Leah Benedict, Jane Wessel, and the anonymous reviewers at Theatre Survey.

References

Endnotes

1. Hume, Robert D., “Theatre History 1660–1800: Aims, Materials, Methodology,” in Players, Playwrights, Playhouses: Investigating Performance, 1660–1800, ed. Cordner, Michael and Holland, Peter (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave MacMillan, 2007), 944CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at 18–19.

2. Cramer, Renée Ann, Pregnant with the Stars: Watching and Wanting the Celebrity Baby Bump (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016), 26Google Scholar.

3. See Stage Mothers: Women, Work and the Theater, 1660–1830, ed. Laura Engel and Elaine M. McGirr (Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, and Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014). As a more general resource, the Pregnancy and Motherhood working group at the American Society for Theatre Research aims to share and exchange research on pregnancy and performance across time and culture.

4. Lewis, Judith Schneid, In the Family Way: Childbearing in the British Aristocracy, 1760–1830 (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1986), 123Google Scholar; Davidoff, Leonore and Hall, Catherine, Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class 1780–1850 (London: Hutchinson Education, 1987), 222–3Google Scholar.

5. For example, Susanna Mountfort Verbruggen (1666–1703) had at least five children, Anne Oldfield (1683–1730) three, Susannah Cibber (1714–66) four, George Anne Bellamy (ca. 1731–88) four, Hannah Pritchard (1711–68) four, Sarah Siddons (1755–1831) seven, and Dorothy Jordan (1761–1816) fourteen.

6. As Robert D. Hume points out, the vast majority of participants in the production of cultural products, including performers, would fall into “the realm of the laboring poor”; “The Value of Money in Eighteenth-Century England: Income, Prices, Buying Power—and Some Problems in Cultural Economics,” Huntington Library Quarterly 77.4 (2014): 373–416, quote on 415. Though I focus largely on celebrity pregnancy, and the women I speak of earned hundreds of pounds a season (including benefits), this income was still paid weekly, may not have been guaranteed during absences, and depended on audience favor, meaning stability could be elusive. For many women, moreover, their salary was the sole means of support not simply for their immediate family, but also for parents, siblings, and other dependents.

7. During the years covered here, 1748–51, London had only two patent theatres. In 1766, Samuel Foote received a royal patent to operate a third, the Haymarket, in the summer.

8. This is seen most easily in cases when one play is substituted for another at the last minute because a performer was unavailable and no other company member could undertake the role at short notice. For example, Drury Lane opened the 1737 season with Otway's The Orphan after advertising Addison's Cato: “Cato given out, but cou'd not be play'd, Mrs Cibber not being ready in Mar[c]ia—we cou'd play no Play but the Orphan Mrs Thurmond having left us.” See The London Stage, 1660–1800: A Calendar of Plays, Entertainments & Afterpieces, Together with Casts, Box-receipts and Contemporary Comment, Part 3: 1729–1747, 2 vols., ed. Arthur H. Scouten (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1961), 2: 681.

9. Bennett, Susan, “Decomposing History (Why Are There So Few Women in Theatre History?),” in Theorizing Practice: Redefining Theatre History, ed. Worthen, W. B. and Holland, Peter (New York: Palgrave McMillan, 2003), 71Google Scholar, 74.

10. Nicoll cited (and revised) in Nussbaum, Felicity, Rival Queens: Actresses, Performance, and the Eighteenth-Century British Theater (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), 6CrossRefGoogle Scholar; italics in the original.

11. Howe, Elizabeth, The First English Actresses: Women and Drama 1660–1700 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992)Google Scholar; Straub, Kristina, Sexual Suspects: Eighteenth-Century Players and Sexual Ideology (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992)Google Scholar; Bush-Bailey, Gilli, Treading the Bawds: Actresses and Playwrights on the Late-Stuart Stage (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Marsden, Jean I., Fatal Desire: Women, Sexuality, and the English Stage, 1660–1720 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006)Google Scholar; Engel, Laura, Fashioning Celebrity: Eighteenth-Century British Actresses and Strategies for Image Making (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2011)Google Scholar; Ritchie, Fiona, Women and Shakespeare in the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Brooks, Helen E. M., Actresses, Gender, and the Eighteenth-Century Stage: Playing Women (Basingstoke, UK, and New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Fawcett, Julia H., Spectacular Disappearances: Celebrity and Privacy, 1696–1801 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

12. Joseph Roach, It (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007); phrase discussed 12–21.

13. See Haywood, Charles, “William Boyce's ‘Solemn Dirge’ in Garrick's Romeo and Juliet Production of 1750,” Shakespeare Quarterly 11.2 (1960): 173–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Burnim, Kalman A., David Garrick, Director (1961; repr., Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1973)Google Scholar; Stone, George Winchester Jr., “Romeo and Juliet: The Source of Its Modern Stage Career,” Shakespeare Quarterly 15.2 (1964): 191206CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Branam, George C., “The Genesis of David Garrick's Romeo and Juliet,” Shakespeare Quarterly 35.2 (1984): 170–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Ritchie, Leslie, “Pox on Both Your Houses: The Battle of the Romeos,” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 27.3–4 (2015): 373–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

14. McGirr, Elaine M., “‘What's in a Name?’ Romeo and Juliet and the Cibber Brand,” Shakespeare 14.4 (2017): 399412CrossRefGoogle Scholar, doi:10.1080/17450918.2017.1406983. McGirr presents convincing evidence that the script for Garrick's 1748 production (and therefore the version used for the Covent Garden production in 1750) may actually be Theophilus's adaptation. Garrick's superior reputation, then and now, has obscured this fact. It has also caused us to give credit to Garrick for innovations in his 1750 text that actually come from Theophilus's version. Essentially, “Theo Cibber's adaptation is assumed to be bad because Theo was bad” (407).

15. Roach, 16–17.

16. Nussbaum, 18–19.

17. Elaine M. McGirr, “‘Inimitable Sensibility’: Susannah Cibber's Performance of Maternity,” in Stage Mothers, ed. Engel and McGirr, 63–77, quote on 64.

18. David Erskine Baker, with Reed, Isaac and Jones, Stephen, Biographia Dramatica; or, A Companion to the Playhouse, 3 vols. (London: Printed for Longman et al., 1812), 1: 125Google Scholar.

19. Unfortunately, the one modern biography we have of Susannah Cibber positions her as a largely passive pawn in the machinations of men around her; Nash, Mary, The Provoked Wife: The Life and Times of Susannah Cibber (Boston: Little, Brown, 1977)Google Scholar. For a useful counterperspective, see Brooks, Helen E. M., “‘Your sincere friend and humble servant’: Evidence of Managerial Aspirations in Susannah Cibber's Letters,” Studies in Theatre and Performance 28.2 (2008): 147–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar, online at https://epdf.tips/studies-in-theatre-amp-performance-282-2008.html accessed 5 January 2019.

20. Nussbaum, 33.

21. Felicity Nussbaum, for example, while acknowledging exceptions, asserts that pregnant actresses “could suffer at least temporary dismissal from the stage” (49), suggesting such absences would be the result of managerial, rather than performer, preference.

22. For a detailed account of the affair and trials, see Nash, 111–63. See also The Tryal of a Cause for Criminal Conversation between Theophilus Cibber, Gent. Plaintiff, and William Sloper, Esq. Defendant (London: T. Trott, 1739).

23. Fitzgerald, Percy, The Life of David Garrick: From Original Family Papers, and Numerous Published and Unpublished Sources, 2 vols. (London: Tinsley Brothers, 1868), 2: 299–300Google Scholar.

24. For a concise overview of the pregnant experiences of actresses, see Helen E. M. Brooks, “The Divided Heart of the Actress: Late Eighteenth-Century Actresses and the ‘Cult of Maternity’” and J. D. Phillipson, “The Inconveniences of the Female Condition: Anne Oldfield's Pregnancies,” both in Stage Mothers, ed. Engel and McGirr, 19–42 and 43–61, respectively.

25. Bellamy's first known appearance in a speaking role was as Miss Prue in Love for Love at Covent Garden in March 1742 (London Stage, 3.2:979). She appears more regularly in cast lists during the 1744–5 season (ibid., 2:1117–77). For her time in Dublin, see John C. Greene, Theatre in Dublin, 1745–1820, 6 vols. (Bethlehem, PA: Lehigh University Press, 2011), 1: 1–26.

26. George Anne Bellamy, An Apology for the Life of George Anne Bellamy, Late of Covent Garden Theatre, 3d ed., 5 vols. (London: J. Bell, 1785), 2: 59. Asterisked footnote and italics per the original.

27. One hallmark of Cibber's success was complete control over her repertoire, established by the time she joined Garrick in 1747; it is unlikely that Bellamy would have been able to retain any parts Cibber did not voluntarily give over. See Helen E. M. Brooks, “Women and Theatrical Management in the Eighteenth Century” in The Public's Open to Us All: Essays on Women and Performance in Eighteenth-Century England, ed. Laura Engel (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars, 2009), 73–95, at 87.

28. See Bellamy, 2: 107.

29. With the exception of Barry in place of Quin, this grouping of performers is the one Horace Walpole praised to Horace Mann in a letter on 5 December 1746: “We have operas but no company at them… . Plays are only in fashion; at one house the best company that perhaps ever were together: Quin, Garrick, Mrs. Pritchard, Mrs. Cibber; at the other, Barry, a favorite young actor”; The Letters of Horace Walpole: Fourth Earl of Orford, 16 vols., ed. Paget Toynbee (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1903), 2: 256.

30. Thomas Davies, Memoirs of the Life of David Garrick, 2 vols. (Dublin: Joseph Hill and John Parker), 2: 182.

31. She paired with Garrick in plays such as Tate's version of King Lear and Thomas Otway's Venice Preserved, and with Barry in Shakespeare's Othello and Otway's The Orphan. On the relative chemistry of each pairing, Davies wrote, “Mrs. Cibber might be stiled indeed the daughter or sister of Mr. Garrick, but could be only the mistress or wife of Barry” (ibid.).

32. George Winchester Stone Jr. and George M. Kahrl, David Garrick: A Critical Biography (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1979), 251.

33. Leslie Ritchie points to the use of Garrick's 1748 adaptation for the 1750 Covent Garden production as well as the presence of Cibber and Barry as the most obviously recycled elements. Ritchie, however, also suggests that Garrick's close instruction of Barry in the part of Romeo meant that audiences may well have also seen Garrick's influence in Barry's vocal inflections and gestural language, as well as overall interpretation of character; see L. Ritchie, particularly 375–80.

34. Among the roles she ultimately shared with Pritchard were the lead in Jane Shore and Andromache in The Distressed Mother (both tragic). Woffington spent the summer of 1748 in Paris undertaking instruction in tragedy from Marie Dumesnil to improve her versatility; see Janet Dunbar, Peg Woffington and H er World (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1968), 159. Woffington also appeared in some of the more somber roles in comedy that Cibber possessed at Drury Lane, such as Mrs. Sullen in The Beaux's Stratagem and Lady Brute in The Provoked Wife.

35. Ward spent most of the 1750s in the provinces, acting and managing with various companies. Returning to London in the 1759, she established herself as a popular performer of fiery tragic heroines.

36. Adrienne Scullion's DNB entry for Ward makes no mention of this pregnancy; “Ward [née Achurch], Sarah (1726/7–1771),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004). The Biographical Dictionary’s entries for Sarah Ward and her husband, Henry, assume the pregnancy to which Bellamy refers to fell in 1758/9 or 1759/60, when Ward returned to London after several years in the provinces; A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers, and Other Stage Personnel in London, 1660–1800 [hereafter BDA], 16 vols., ed. Philip H. Highfill Jr., Kalman A. Burnim, and Edward A. Langhans (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1973–93), 15: 253 and 15: 256.

37. Bellamy, 1: 198–200. There is a wealth of supporting evidence for Bellamy's assertion. Bellamy locates the pregnancy in the same season Peg Woffington joined Covent Garden, Bellamy made her own return from Ireland, and Ward initially arrived from Edinburgh. Ward's midseason absence in 1748–9 is of a similar length to her lying in in 1751, for which we have a birth announcement.

38. Ibid., 1: 199.

39. Ibid. For dates, see London Stage, Part 4: 1747–1776, 3 vols., ed. George Winchester Stone Jr. (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1962), 1: 67 (Ward), and 1: 70 (Bellamy).

40. Even as an extremely young performer in 1744–5, Bellamy had exclusively appeared in parts of pathos and tragedy: Monimia in The Orphan, Aspasia in The Maid's Tragedy, Lucia in Cato, and Anne Bullen in Henry VIII for a shared benefit.

41. Bellamy performed forty-eight nights this season. Nine of her nineteen total parts were current or former roles of Cibber's: the four current roles were Monimia, Belvidera, Indiana in The Conscious Lovers, and Alicia in Jane Shore; she also played Imoinda in Oroonoko, Celia in Volpone, Statira in The Rival Queens, Marcia in Cato, and Eudocia in The Siege of Damascus, all of which Cibber had played in earlier seasons. Bellamy appeared in these eight roles on twenty of the forty-eight nights.

42. As Felicity Nussbaum notes, the idea of rivaling theatrical “queens” within a theatre company was a profitable narrative iterated both in playtexts and in print sources reporting on relations between women in the theatre companies. Within playtexts, these narratives set two women up in direct competition, usually for a man; in discourses around theatrical companies, competition focused on roles, the favor of the manager, or material possessions like costumes or props. This effectively meant that, at any given time, there were only two possible spots at the top for tragic performers in a single house (Nussbaum, 66–71).

43. Davies, 1: 101; John Genest, Some Account of the English Stage, from the Restoration in 1660 to 1830, 10 vols. (Bath: H. E. Carrington, 1832), 4: 289.

44. Samuel Johnson's ill-received Mahomet and Irene was staged in the first half of February; despite her interest in Hill's script and in addition to her illness, Cibber may have also been wary of appearing in another untried tragedy that season.

45. The information comes from David Mallet, letters to Aaron Hill (1731–50), MS Thr 31, Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University. For a more complete transcription of the correspondence, see Anthony Vaughn, Born to Please: Hannah Pritchard, Actress 1711–1768, A Critical Biography (London: Society for Theatre Research, 1979), 57–8, quote on 57.

46. Vaughn, 57.

47. Gender bias has been acknowledged as a factor in pain management for several decades, and is visible in sources from the Greeks to Freud's treatment of female patients. For a recent work on the subject, see Abby Norman, Ask Me about My Uterus: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women's Pain (New York: Nation Books, 2018).

48. For a brief overview see Nussbaum, 3–6. Also see ibid., 259–64, for an extended example using his relationship with the actress Frances Abington. McGirr also notes our tendency to privilege Garrick's reputation, agency, and perspective in “What's in a Name?”

49. Davies, 1: 120.

50. Garrick's letters make it clear that Cibber was refusing to sign with Drury Lane at least a month before the first mention of Barry's defection in July. David Garrick, Letters of David Garrick, ed. David M. Little and George M. Kahrl, 3 vols. (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1963), 1: 144 and 1: 146.

51. For full details, see Nash, 125–63.

52. Tryal of a Cause, 15. Criminal conversation was a tort; a husband could sue for damages a man who had cuckolded him. After the trial Mrs. Cibber entered temporary retirement and disappeared, resurfacing in 1741 in Dublin, where she performed at Aungier Street Theatre and sang oratorios with George Frideric Handel, including the premiere of his Messiah on 13 April 1742. She returned to London that autumn after securing a legal separation from Theophilus that would protect her earnings. As part of her conditions for performing, she made arrangements with the managers at both theatres never to employ them both in the same company, and to bar Theophilus from the buildings anytime she might be present (Nash, 177).

53. Elizabeth Montague recorded an embarrassing story in which, on a visit to Sloper's country house of West Woodhay in 1747, she asked the housekeeper if Mr. Cibber were at home; Elizabeth Montague to Margaret Cavendish, 6 July 1747, Elizabeth Robinson Montague Papers, MSSMO 422, Huntington Library, San Marino, CA. As a later example, when Cibber and Sloper tried to introduce their daughter Molly into Bath society in the 1760s, a woman made such a fuss about her illegitimacy that Beau Nash, Bath's Master of Ceremonies, forbade Molly from dancing (Nash, 282–3).

54. Nash, 245–7.

55. Roach, 8; italics in the original.

56. Ibid., 37.

57. Bellamy, 2: 64–5; 2: 70.

58. Ibid, 2: 54.

59. For a discussion of Bellamy's evolving performances of virtue in her life and memoir, see Nussbaum, 116–18.

60. Cibber was at Bath in October when she was incorrectly reported to be “lying near death” (General Advertiser [London], 4 October 1749). Her son, Charles, would die in April 1758 while away at school, and his age at that point was given as eight years old (Public Advertiser [London], 19 April 1758). His birth is usually supposed to have occurred sometime between October and early January. All newspaper citations are from 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers, Gale Digital Collections.

61. Barry appeared on sixty-six nights in the 1748–9 season, and fifty-eight nights the following year. Some of the disparity is explained by the success of Romeo and Juliet. To help compensate for some of the missing repertory in Cibber's absence, The London Stage shows Garrick gifting Hamlet to Barry for much of 1749–50; Barry played the part four times, Garrick twice (once for Clive's benefit).

62. When planning for the 1750–1 season, for example, Garrick thought to compete with Covent Garden in both Romeo and Juliet and King John, knowing that Cibber would play both Juliet and Constance. In looking at his own company, he would have to use two women to fill these roles: “If Bellamy agrees with us, she may open with [Juliet]; … I hope Mrs. Pritchard will be reconciled to Constance” (Garrick, 1: 152). Pritchard and Cibber had previously “rivaled” each other as Constance in 1745, with Cibber starring in Garrick's adaptation of King John at Drury Lane, and Pritchard in Colley Cibber's Papal Tyranny in the Reign of King John at Covent Garden. McGirr, “Inimitable Sensibility.”

63. Richard Cross records in his diary at the beginning of the season, “Mrs. Ward engag'd from Covent Garden—Mrs. Cibber not intending to play this Season.” Richard Cross, Diaries for Drury Lane Theatre, 1747–9, Cross–Hopkins diaries, Folger Shakespeare Library W.a.104(1).

64. See Stone and Kahrl, 84–5.

65. Tate Wilkinson, Memoirs of His Own Life, 4 vols. (York: Wilson, Spence, & Mawman, 1790), 4: 150.

66. Mary Elmy (neé Moss) had moved between London and Dublin in the 1730s and 1740s as a solid and useful, if not spectacularly popular, performer (BDA, 5: 70–4). Indiana and Desdemona were significant parts, however; that she was able to serve as substitute in them may tell us something about the popularity of these two pieces—clearly, while Cibber's performances of the two female leads were very popular, they were not the sole requirement for a successful production. Tracking plays in which more minor players can substitute for popular performers without the play losing its appeal is a revealing way to understand better where a play's popularity lies, and to what degree it may depend on a singular performer or popular pairing.

67. In contrast, Ward appeared only forty-two nights that season, twenty of which are accounted for by the opening runs of two new plays, Edward, the Black Prince and The Roman Father.

68. Elmy's entry in the BDA notes that, from about 1749 onward, Elmy seems to have risen in the public estimation, particularly in a few select roles such as Lavinia in The Fair Penitent and Desdemona in Othello, which she played during Cibber's 1749–50 absence. The next year, she left Drury Lane for Covent Garden with Cibber and Barry, but when Cibber returned to Drury Lane in 1753, Elmy remained and once again played Desdemona opposite Barry.

69. Woffington now had a host of tragic roles, among them Desdemona in Othello, Andromache in The Distressed Mother, and Arpasia in Tamerlane, all Cibber roles. Even so, only five of her sixty-one appearances during Bellamy's absence overlapped Cibber's tragic repertoire.

70. The exceptions were three parts undertaken by Mrs. Vincent, a longtime company member recently returned from Dublin: Indiana in The Conscious Lovers, Celia in Volpone, and Marcia in Cato.

71. Dunbar, 167–8. The birth of the child is recounted in Bellamy's BDA entry (2: 12), as is her absence for half the season. Bellamy's account of her labor can be found in her Apology, 2: 67–9.

72. Bellamy, 2: 69–70. Benefit proceeds usually included a deduction for house charges, which covered the costs of opening the theatre and supplying actors and production staff. A “clear” benefit meant that the management absorbed these costs and the performer received the full receipts for the performance.

73. Each of the roles offered the kind of tragic pathos in which Cibber and Bellamy specialized. Leonora is a Desdemona-like woman killed by her husband; Athenais commits suicide when forced to marry the Emperor Theodosius so she can remain true to her lover, Veranes; Imoinda, the pregnant wife of Oroonoko, encourages the warrior to kill them all to escape slavery; Almeyda is a Moorish princess secretly married to Don Sebastian and pursued by Muley Moloch—and though she does not die, she and Don Sebastian are forced to dissolve their marriage when they discover it is incestuous. Each woman is the object of desire for at least one, and usually most, of the male characters in in the play, and their deaths or misfortunes typically come at the hands of these men, who are bars to their virtuous desire to be loyal to a single husband or lover.

74. Bellamy and Cibber's shared repertoire, with Cibber's greater prominence, made Bellamy's successes in roles associated with her particularly valuable. Writing of her 1752 benefit, she says, “My benefit this season turned out very lucrative… . The piece I had was, ‘Tancred and Sigismunda;’ in which I succeeded much beyond my hopes, as Mrs. Cibber was the original Sigismunda, and most capitally great in the performance of that character; so that I acquired, in addition to the emoluments, an increase of fame” (Bellamy, 2: 126).

75. On 20 March; see London Stage, 4.1: 184.

76. Matthew J. Kinservik, “Benefit Play Selection at Drury Lane 1729–1769: The Cases of Mrs. Cibber, Mrs. Clive, and Mrs. Pritchard,” Theatre Notebook 50.1 (1996): 15–28.

77. The Roman Father, with pregnant Hannah Pritchard in the leading role of Horatia.

78. Benjamin Victor, The History of the Theatres of London and Dublin from the year 1730 to the present time, 2 vols. (London: Printed for T. Davies et al., 1761), 1: 92–3, quote on 93. It is unclear which script Covent Garden was using: the original, Theophilus Cibber's of 1744, a version by Sheridan for the 1746 production, David Garrick's of 1748, or a new version are all possibilities. As Bellamy had been in Sheridan's production in 1746, it may be reasonable to assume it was this version—it seems highly unlikely to have been Garrick's given the status of the competition between the houses, but technically, if it were in print, there would have been no barrier to its use and Garrick's 1748 script was used by Covent Garden in the fall 1750 contest.

79. Nash, 252.

80. Garrick, 1: 144. Garrick's letters this summer reveal the ways in which the managers attempted to monitor activity at the other house, particularly if it at all influenced their company. Garrick requests “reports, hints, facts, &c.” from Somerset Draper on 2 June (ibid.), and is exasperated by the failure of Lacy's “spies, deep researches, and anonymous letters” on 22 June (ibid., 1: 146). It seems clear that they anticipated some kind of impending crisis; whereas Garrick urged preemptive moves, including the hiring of Bellamy, Lacy preferred to wait.

81. Ibid., 1: 146. These same letters contain references to the actor West Digges, who Lacy and Garrick appear to be considering as a new hire. Whether this reflected on Barry at all is never explicitly stated, but Garrick's claimed lack of surprise that Barry and Cibber defected, and his anxiety that his interest in Digges should not be publicly known, suggests that he may have been preparing to replace Barry, or was at least interested in securing a reliable second for the actor (see ibid., 143 and 147).

82. It is unclear exactly who signed with Rich first. By June, Garrick was confident that Cibber would not return to Drury Lane, but he does not mention her in connection with Covent Garden until July, when he also mentions Barry. Bellamy suggests that Rich signed Barry first, and that she signed with Garrick only when his partner, Lacy, lied and told her that Cibber had already signed with Rich (Bellamy, 2: 106–8). Nash, on the other hand, notes that Garrick's preoccupation with James Quin's movements that summer—particularly a June visit he made to Scarborough, where Cibber and Sloper were staying—suggests he may have connected Quin's trip with Cibber's defection (see Nash, 252). If so, perhaps Cibber initiated the move.

83. In his Prologue to open the season, Garrick accused the papers of puffing up the star-studded company at Covent Garden: “To shake our souls, the papers of the day / Drew forth the adverse power in dread array; / A power, might strike the boldest with dismay.” “Prologue, at the Revival of Every Man in his Humour,” Gentleman's Magazine (London) 20 (September 1750): 422, lines 12–14.

84. Garrick, 1: 152–3.

85. Ritchie, “Pox on Both Your Houses,” 376.

86. Francis Gentleman, The Dramatic Censor; or, Critical Companion, 2 vols. (London: Printed for J. Bell and C. Etherington, 1770), 1: 192–3.

87. Bellamy, 2: 117.

88. For extended account of Cibber's impact in the part, see “On Seeing Mr. Barry and Mrs. Cibber in Romeo and Juliet” in Original Prologues, Epilogues, and Other Pieces Never Before Printed (London: n.p., 1756), 12–14. Interestingly, for this author Cibber's offstage experiences added to her performance: after complimenting her “long experienc[e] in the lover's art” they declare, “that those who act, must first have lov'd, like thee” (ibid., 13).

89. Theatricus, “Free Remarks on the Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet,” The Student; or, The Oxford and Cambridge Monthly Miscellany 2.2 (November 1750), 58–64, at 59.

90. Davies, 1: 102.

91. “The Young Lady may have Genius … but if she has, it is so eclips'd by the Manner of Speaking ye Laureat has taught her, that I'm afraid it will not do” (Garrick, 1: 158). Despite this opinion, Garrick hired Jenny Cibber to act Alicia in Jane Shore, one of Mrs. Cibber's signature parts, on 19 October. Garrick's hiring may have been an attempt to goad her stepmother and draw audiences with the idea of another rival to Susannah, but Jenny failed to make an impression. Cross noted that they attempted to repeat the performance, but the idea was “great hiss'd” (London Stage, 4.1:213).

92. “Miss Bellamy has surpriz'd Every body, & I hope before Yr Ladp returns, that she will almost be a Match [for] Madam Cibber, who I believe now begins to repent of leaving Drury Lane” (Garrick, 1: 156).

93. Hilary Mantel, “Why I Became a Historical Novelist,” The Guardian, 3 June 2017, www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jun/03/hilary-mantel-why-i-became-a-historical-novelist, accessed 10 June 2018.

94. For examples, see Dunbar's account of Bellamy's absence and return in 1749–50 (167–8); Davies's of Cibber's refusal of Merope (1: 119–20); Nash's of Cibber's 1749–50 absence (245–7). While Pritchard is less frequently accused of such sins, it is sometimes because she is viewed as too unintelligent to have engaged in deliberate manipulation, following Johnson's assessment of her as a “vulgar idiot”; see James Boaden, Memoirs of Mrs. Siddons, 2 vols. (London: Henry Colburn, 1827), 2: 36–7.

95. Bennett, Susan, “Theatre History, Historiography and Women's Dramatic Writing,” in Women, Theatre and Performance: New Histories, New Historiographies, ed. Gale, Maggie B. and Gardner, Viv (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000), 4659Google Scholar, at 53.

96. Taylor, Diana, The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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