- (1836-1909)Born in Elmira, New York, the activist actress and playwright grew up in a theatrical family, often playing child roles in her father's company. She made her adult debut in 1854 at Philadelphia's Arch Street Theatre. From 1855 to 1863, she lived abroad, during which period she married the first of her three husbands. In 1864, she acted in her own play, Evaleen, at Wallack's Theatre in New York City, and then toured it under the title The Felon's Daughter. Having begun publishing essays in periodicals about her life in Paris while she lived there, she decided to pursue writing as a profession instead of acting. She wrote voluminously, not only about the theatre, but also about women's issues, on which she also lectured widely. She championed decency of behavior and dress for women, gaining national celebrity. Her 1870 memoir Before the Footlights and Behind the Scenes colorfully evokes changes in theatrical customs during the post-Civil War years and recounts the controversy following publication of her famous essay on "the leg business," condemning scantily clad women on stage, in Galaxy magazine (summer 1867). She followed that book with another, The Mimic World (1871), and also began to see her plays produced in New York: Surf (1870), A Business Woman (1873), A Will and a Way (1874), her translation of La Cigale (1878), and Newport (1879).
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.
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