Anna Cora Mowatt, married in 1834 at age 15, lived in luxury until her husband’s health failed and he lost his money, forcing her to find a way to support them. She was the first woman to give public poetry readings; she wrote the first social satire for the stage; and, having become a star overnight without previous acting experience, she was the first American to make acting a respectable profession for women–proving that a lady could be an actress and an actress a lady.
Though this book was written for teens and published as a YA book, it contains enough detail to be interesting to adults.
Targeted Age Group:: 12 up
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This book was written by my mother and published in hardcover in 1966. I, Sylvia Engdahl, inherited the rights to her books and have reissued them as ebooks along with my own books. She was always interested in history and in the theater, and wrote five YA books late in her life, some biographies and some fiction.
And what a tremendous contribution she had made, far out of proportion to her strength or her span of years. What she had received from life were gifts not to be minimized for, in spite of ill health and sorrow, she had enjoyed advantages not given to many. She had been cherished by a loving family from earliest childhood; she had had a faithful and adoring husband and hosts of friends; she had been able to follow a profession which thrilled her and employed all her talents; and in the beginning and during short periods in her later life, she had enjoyed wealth and leisure.
And her accomplishments? She had rescued three orphans from poverty and given them new parents and a happy home; she had interested thousands of people in her magazine articles and entertained thousands more with her novels; she had enthralled hundreds of thousands with her grace, her beauty, and her lovely voice when she appeared on the stage; and she had helped to make possible the enduring monument of Mount Vernon, to be appreciated by millions after her death. Her life indeed had had meaning.
The Lily of this narrative is known in theater history as Anna Cora Mowatt, and though during the last sixteen years of her life she was Mrs. William Foushee Ritchie, it was her life as Mrs. Mowatt, actress, that she valued most. She would be glad to have her story told for generations after her to read.
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