Anna Cora Mowatt, Pauline, and a Tale of Two Cities

Anna Cora Mowatt in Boston and Philadelphia, 1851

Part XVI: The Lady’s Reception in Boston and Philly

In the fall of 1851, the sustainability of Anna Cora Mowatt’s career as an actress was uncertain. She had returned to the U.S. with a lucrative contract for a run at Niblo’s Garden in hand. However she was greatly changed by her four years in Europe. Would American theater-goers accept their former sweetheart as she was now – matured, widowed, and haunted by rumors a transatlantic scandal?

Over and above providing the best quality performances of which she was capable, Mowatt and her supporters put forth a publicity campaign which erased, minimalized, or palliated these transformations for her ticket-buying public. This week I will show you two examples of cities that embraced or rejected the spin in order to demonstrate factors that could make the strategies work or fail. In September of 1851, Mowatt performed at the Howard Athenaeum to the cheers of overflowing crowds. Just a few weeks later in October, playing a nearly identical slate of roles, she was a critical failure at the Chestnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia.

Starting with a negative example in Philly, a determining factor that I feel was crucial in the success or failure of Mowatt’s publicity efforts was an established positive prior relationship with representatives in the press. Since newspaper reviews and press releases are one of the primary sources that researchers have for gaining information about historical performers, it is easy to overestimate the importance of the press. However, a connection between a performer and a media outlet that had gone bad could prove quite toxic. For example, tidbits of information sprinkled throughout his columns make it clear that the drama critic/gossip columnist writing for New Orleans’ Times Picayune who signs himself “Don Caesar” seems to have had a highly positive relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Charles Kean during their visits to the U.S. He writes admiringly of their performances and reports to have dined with them on several occasions. He was very generous with his praise of Anna Cora Mowatt until the winter of 1847-48 when the Mowatts began an aggressive publicity campaign encouraging head-to-head comparisons between her and Mrs. Charles Kean with Mrs. Kean frequently coming out the loser. After witnessing the deployment of that tactic, the Times Picayune became quite sharp in its observations concerning Mrs. Mowatt.

Ellen Tree (Mrs. Charles Kean)
Ellen Tree (Mrs. Charles Kean)

I can point to no specific incident may have soured a Philadelphia journalist on Mowatt. However she did not seem to have any particular friends in the Pennsylvania press who could be counted on to publish flattering articles that advocated for her or to suppress or counter negative submissions like the following;

Mrs. Mowatt is performing at Niblo’s Garden. She is, to our mind, an indifferent actress, and notwithstanding the extravagant nonsense of her success in London, where (after ruining one manager until he committed forgery, and being convicted, ventured on self-murder to avoid transportation,) she really failed, although she played at a third-rate establishment. She will not be able to do much, we are afraid, here. She is an agreeable writer, and, they say, a pleasant woman. She has completely mistaken her forte, we opine, in resorting to the stage.1

This nasty, near-libelous item was printed in the Philadelphia Sunday Dispatch in August, 1851. Although short, it packs multitude of body-blows to Mowatt’s reputation. The writer is attacking her not only as an actress and denigrating her record of achievements abroad, but launching a lethal assault on her character and social standing by implying that she was personally and financially linked to Watts’ downfall.

I cannot overstate what a danger these few, casually venomous sentences by a writer hiding behind a pseudonym posed to the actress. Publicity of this nature represented a worst case scenario for Mowatt. Had this item been reprinted widely or had more opinion pieces with similarly naked accusations surfaced, it is probable that Anna Cora Mowatt would not have been able to sustain either a theatrical or literary career by fall of 1851.

Chesnut St. Theatre, North East corner of 6th and Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA
Chesnut St. Theatre, North East corner of 6th and Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA

The Sunday Dispatch again seemed distinctly unfriendly to Mowatt when she arrived in Philadelphia in October. Their drama critic reviewed only one of the five shows she played in the city, panning it soundly;

At the Chesnut, on Monday evening, Mrs. Mowatt made her first appearance since her return from Europe, as Julia, in the “Hunchback.” Those who remember the lady during her former engagements in this city as of a thin attenuated figure would scarcely recognize her, so much has she altered. She is now a fine specimen of a plump and beautiful woman, charming every eye by her elegant figure and graceful carriage. As an actress, she will not rate as high as the plentiful newspaper laudations which she gained abroad would lead many to suppose. She is a fair performer, and would be a useful addition to a stock company, but has not the commanding talents necessary for a “star.” Her Julia was a respectable performance, and nothing more. There was no evidence of genius in it, and in certain postures where effort is necessary, the exertion was not veiled. In the commencement of the play, Mrs. Mowatt was the happiest. The gaiety of the lady, transported by ideas of pleasure and enjoyment, was fairly depicted. In the graver portions of the scenes, the Julia of the evening was respectable, but not great.

In the lower tones, Mrs. Mowatt’s voice is distinct and pleasing; but when she rises into declamation, she becomes reedy, unpleasant, and at times, indistinct. In the general requisites of stage business she seems at home. With a full knowledge of what she ought to do, she fails occasionally in producing an impression. There is before us constantly the feeling that it is all mechanical acting. Mrs. Mowatt does not possess the power to throw around her the illusions of scene in such a manner as to deceive our senses, and lead us to forget place and occasion. In heavy parts this is very apparent. In those of lighter grade there is less need of effort, and Mrs. Mowatt is, therefore, more pleasing. In Julia she was not very successful, for this reason. The performance was throughout very creditable, but not of the highest order of merit.2

This critic neatly combines the sum of complaints reviewers had made about Mowatt since her debut into one package: She was not good at making grand dramatic gestures for which Charlotte Cushman, Edwin Forrest, or other popular stars of the day were known. Mowatt was generally considered to be better at comedy than tragedy. Although the actress had a beautiful voice, under stress it betrayed strain in the higher registers. To it, the writer adds a few borrowed from the most negative of her London critics: She lacked power and genius and was altogether too ordinary. In addition, the reviewer throws in a new complaint – Mowatt had changed too much.

A diametrically opposing evaluation of the same production was published in the North American;

Mrs. Mowatt performed, last evening, at the Chestnut Street Theatre, the part of Julia, in Knowles’ admired play of the “Hunchback,” and the event attracted a large and discriminating audience. Her personation of the character was a graceful, finished, and effective one, sustaining fully the high reputation which has returned with her from England, where she has, for several years been pursuing her professional career. She appears to-night as “Juliet,” in “Romeo and Juliet,” and there will, no doubt, be another full house to greet her.3

Of course, it is entirely possible that the above is not actually a review as such but a form of compensated publicity for the theatre. The North American provided similar cheerful commentary on all of Mowatt’s Philadelphia appearances with assurances that the actress was playing to full and enthusiastic houses. After the run, though, the Dollar Newspaper groused;

At the Chestnut, Mrs. Mowatt, whom we think a greatly overrated actress, concluded a rather indifferent engagement of two weeks on Saturday evening. We consider her by no means equal to either of the leading stock actresses at the three theatres here.4

To summarize the critical reaction to Mowatt’s tour in Philadelphia — two reviewers who were unimpressed by Mowatt’s performances tell us nothing about audience attendance. One writer reports good houses and is enthusiastic about the productions, but is vague on details. My supposition is that attendance was probably good, but the shows were weak.

The Philadelphia reviewers lay the blame for the poor quality of the productions squarely on Mowatt’s shoulders; however, they do mention bad performances from the Chestnut Theater’s stock players. This aspect of the tour stands in high contrast from the Boston shows at the Howard Athenaeum, where Mowatt’s co-stars received high praise. Compare the reviewers’ descriptions of the stock companies from the two cities. First is the Sunday Dispatch’s sour summary of the merits of Chestnut Theater’s players in “The Hunchback” in October of 1851;

Mr. Gilbert’s Master Walter was played with care. Mr. G. was not happy in the character, nevertheless. Mr. Taylor mouthed his way through Sir Thomas Clifford in lamentable style. The sing-song pronunciation which distinguished him throughout the play is one of the most noticeable defects in all his characters. He should strive to free himself of this odious mannerism. Mrs. W. H. Smith’s Helen was rather too smart and coquettish for a lady. This style was better suited for the character of a saucy chambermaid. Mrs. Dawson’s Modus was tolerable, but very inappropriately costumed. Of the rest, nothing need be said.5

Next is an enumeration from a Boston critic of the Howard Athenaeum’s stock company supporting Mowatt for a tour in September of 1851 that included productions of “Love’s Sacrifice,” “Hunchback,” and “Lady of Lyons;”

The old Boston favorites were warmly received, and the newcomers welcomed with a heartiness which must have been gratifying to them. Mrs. Jones is an actress of superior power, and finds her true level in such deep-toned characters as is Margret Elmore. We have never seen Marshall play with such intense energy and vivid feelings as on Monday evening. His Mathew Elmore was a perfect triumph of nature over art, and the frequent applause which greeted its representation must have assured him of the sympathy of his audience. With Mr. Meeker there was but one step from the unknown stranger to the established favorite. There has been no light comedian in Boston for many years that could at all compare with him in point of real talent. His St. Lo was sparkling, graceful and impressive, and in other characters, since delineated, there has been a degree of variety and originality truly refreshing in these days of dead-level sameness. Mrs. Sloan is a bright and vivacious face actress, but is entirely lost in comedy. Her Hermine was excessively tame and ineffective, but in the short petticoats of Lola Montes, she recovered the ground lost by attempting to sport a train. Mrs. Cramer has lost none of her talent or popularity in the years of her absence from the Boston boards; and then that little fairy of a daughter of hers! What can we say of her, more than that she inherits her mother’s talent, gracefulness and charming face – three requisites, without which no woman should choose the stage for a profession? Frank Whitman’s Lafont was good – very good – as is every character he sustains. Mr. Brand is a fine melo-dramatic actor, of whom we shall speak more fully when opportunity occurs for display of his peculiar talent. Mr. Sloan, like his wife, is better in farce than in the legitimate business; he is far from bad in either. Mr. Stephens has greatly improved in his acting since we last saw him, and is play the Howard old men very acceptably.6

Reader, after reading condemnation or praise of all these unknown actors, you may be asking, does the quality of the performances of the supporting cast really make that much of a difference? Before I answer, here is the reviewer’s evaluation of Mowatt’s performance that goes with the roll call of the Boston cast;

So much for the stock; now for the star; one shining with more pure and beautiful lustre we could not have than our own graceful and gifted countrywoman, Mrs. Mowatt. As gifted by nature as by art – as lovable and beloved at home as upon the stage – as pure in thought and heart as are her own beautiful conceptions – it would be strange indeed if one could see her and not become fascinated by her exquisite personations of character. Essentially “a child of genius and of song,” she softens and mellows the portraitures of art, by imbuing them with a portion of her own poetic inspiration. She moves about the stage like the embodiment of some beautiful thought fresh from a poet heart. Every word she utters is a melody – every gesture of her expressive face an irresistible charm – and every attitude a picture of unstudied grace and dignity.

She is not an actress, but a deep-hearted and impulsive woman – one who has learned her lessons of life in the school of affections. Nature was the artisan who moulded her intellect, and from that great master she gained the power to daguerreotype his features most effectively until what seems like art is in reality but the true impress of his unmistakable stamp. Her delineation of Pauline on Wednesday evening was brilliant in the extreme. Every emotion of her heart flashed instantaneously upon her face. Intense expression of features is usually labored and, to us repulsive, and we like most a face capable of sublime beauty, without being doll-like when in repose. We had rather see the soul of the woman than the soul of the artiste, and admire a thousand times more the natural and spontaneous burst of real feeling, than we could anything, however grand and superb that we knew had been studied by artistic rule for the purpose of greater effect. Mrs. Mowatt’s great charm is in her naturalness and freedom from affectation. Nature too has been very lavish of treasures upon her person as well as mind.7

This evaluation is a far cry from Philadelphia’s conclusion that Mowatt was a second rate performer who was barely competent enough to be a member of a stock company, isn’t it? Less rhapsodic, but still solidly positive is this short notice confirming the success of the tour that appeared in Boston’s Daily Atlas;

At the Howard, Mrs. Mowatt will enact Pauline in the elegant play of the Lady of Lyons. This lady has won a host of admirers since her engagement, who have witnessed the marked improvement exhibited in her performances since her visit to England. Her impersonations are more natural, and they are free from that chilling effect, which, upon her first appearance in this city, was so much of a blemish.8

Other reports of other productions from her visit to Boston bore the same message – Mowatt was perceived by reviewers to have given better performances when supported by a stronger cast of actors. Weak co-stars and a poor quality stock company put her at a dangerous disadvantage. This potential pitfall would be more extreme for female player during the era than for a male performer.

I have before written at length about how the structure of Victorian dramas does not favor female characters. This disadvantage is true of the Shakespearean plays that were so popular in that era as well. Juliet and Lady Macbeth are memorable roles, but both are actually relatively small parts when compared to the numerous male roles in the dramas from which they derive. Each character is introduced late and dies before the last scene. As is true in Bulwer’s “Lady of Lyons,” in a production with a weak cast and inept co-stars, an audience might have to sit through as long as thirty minutes to an hour with a poor quality Macbeth, Romeo, or Claude Melnotte before Mowatt’s performance would commence in earnest. By that time, it is quite likely that viewers would be too annoyed to come away with a positive overall impression of the production and the actress’ skills.

For Boston’s “Lady of Lyons,” Mowatt had an unusual co-star. Mrs. Malinda Jones, who had played rival Paulines in New York and Cincinnati, portrayed her Claude. The fad for “breeches roles” was at its height at this time. Charlotte Cushman was still reprising her interpretation of Romeo in London to great applause. Ellen Tree had been a sensation in Talfourd’s “Ion” when she toured the U.S.

Melinda Jones
Melinda Jones

Today it may be hard to credit fully, but in those pre-Freudian times, women playing male characters did not have the same type of overt sexual connotations that the similar casting choices would carry today. There were not the sort of outraged comments in the press about women playing love scenes opposite other women that today’s views of Victorian era morality might lead one to expect. The only aspect of “breeches roles” performances that were acknowledged by viewers of that day as mildly titillating was that the male costumes the actresses wore for such roles exposed more of the women’s legs than was considered proper for middle to upper class women to reveal in everyday social dress. Even this aspect of the performance was not so beyond the outer bounds of propriety that it could not be mentioned openly. There are a lot of comments in reviews about how good actresses’ legs looked in their costumes.

Victorian era theatre-goers felt that women could play certain “emotional ranges” better than male performers could, just as female voices were associated with specific vocal ranges. Proud, young, impetuous, fallible, romantic, poetic Claude Melotte was a suitable candidate for female performers to attempt to embody because his passions fell into what was considered within the feminine emotive “scale.”

I cannot find any reviews that comment in detail on Jones’ portrayal of Claude, but the actress also played Romeo to Mowatt’s Juliet during this same series of performances to the delight of the critics;

Mrs. Mowatt played the most delicious Juliet we ever saw, and pardon our enthusiasm; we think that it would be impossible to get a nearer portraiture of the beautiful, childish, loving, gentle, passionate Veronese, than that presented by Mrs. Mowatt. The celebrated balcony scene was capitally done. The actress was lost in the character she represented, we saw not Mrs. Mowatt, but the impassioned Juliet, filled with the voluptuous languor of her first love, and burning to throw herself into her Romeo’s arms…

Romeo, by Mrs. Jones, was very well played. The lady possesses all the physical requisites necessary for a woman when undertaking a male part. Her pedestals are beautifully formed; her foot is small and pretty; her ankle is charmingly turned. As a whole, she gives a better idea of the author’s Romeo than Miss Cushman, although the last named lady can never be equaled in the “banishment scene” with Friar Laurence. It is one of those achievements in the histrionic art which stand alone, unapproachable – once seen, never to be forgotten.9

Charlotte and Susan Cushman as Romeo and Juliet
Charlotte and Susan Cushman as Romeo and Juliet

It may be a bit disconcerting for a modern reader to try to wrap their head around the notion that the primary physical requirement that a female performer needed to successfully play Romeo was pretty ankles; however, Shakespeare’s Veronese lover was another impulsive and emotional young male that Victorians had decided they were comfortable seeing portrayed by women. Charlotte Cushman had stunned audiences with her interpretation of the scene referenced above in which Romeo bursts into tears of utter despair in Friar Laurence’s cell. The passionate outpouring, everyone agreed, was eminently appropriate for the character, but too unmanly for any self-respecting male actor to ever attempt to duplicate.

[Needless to say, the issues of how two women were able to play one of Shakespeare’s most passionate love scenes, how thirty-four-year old Mowatt convincingly portrayed fourteen-year-old Juliet with “child-like simplicity,” and how notoriously conservative Bostonians rapturously embraced these seemingly shocking-for-the-time-period casting choices demands further discussion. However, these are deeper waters than I am willing to dive into at this point. I promise to return to Jones and Mowatt’s “Romeo and Juliet” in a future entry.]

The final crucial difference between the reception of Mowatt in Boston and Philly that I want to point out is the acknowledged presence of her fan base. In Boston, there were multiple letters and two poems from Mowatt fans printed during September. I could find no similar submissions printed in Philadelphia papers in October. The absence of material supporting Mowatt during her presence in that city raises the following possibilities:

  • Mowatt had significantly fewer fans in Philadelphia
  • The fans she did have were not aggressive in their support of her
  • Philadelphia newspapers chose not to run submissions that demonstrated support of Mowatt.
  • I don’t have enough evidence at this time to conclude which of these scenarios is the most likely or even to guess the reasons behind Mowatt’s lack of support in this city. In Boston, however, I can easily trace the positive effects for Mowatt radiating from an active group of fans whose letters and creative outpourings are welcomed by the press. Some of these letters were conventional unsolicited submissions to “Letters to the Editor” columns. Others were contributions by writers who penned regular or occasional local interest columns. With headings such as “Odds and Ends About Town” or “Town Talk,” these were wide ranging, informally phrased contributions that usually covered politics and significant happenings of the day. In this post-Astor Place Riots era, the writers of such columns were definitely not elitists. One writer makes a point of identifying himself as not being a regular theatre-goer. The appeal of these letters is democratic. Average citizens are volunteering their honest evaluation of Mowatt with their fellows.

    Interior of Boston's Howard Athenaeum
    Interior of Boston’s Howard Athenaeum

    The best of the “fan letters” comes from a columnist who signs themselves “H—Times.” This entry appeared in the Boston Statesman on September 27. The writer begins with a complaint about the lack of in depth coverage in local papers and then forthrightly volunteers to fill the breech as follows;

    Of this lady I have seen no careful notice since her arrival in our city and appearance at the Howard Athenaeum, so I propose to devote a few lines to a description of her. The papers have noticed her in general terms. She has been called a charming woman – a finished actress; — and it is said she is impassioned, and throws her soul into the part and character she assumes. All this is well: but Mrs. Mowatt is deserving of a more minute and careful description – and in the absence of a better pen to give the description I will use my own – and I would it were more competent.10

    Part of the problem the actress faced was that she needed to re-introduce herself to theater-goers who might have forgotten her in her four year’s absence or arrived on the scene since she left. An interview with Mowatt featuring an attractive illustration of her in “The Bride of Lammermoor” was published Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing Room Companion on October 25, 1851. However the writing lacks the personal, humanizing touch that the individual endorsements of the letters that appeared in Boston newspapers had.

    Gleason's, October, 1851
    Gleason’s, October, 1851

    As the article in Gleason’s had, H—Times details Mowatt’s biography in loving detail, then concludes on behalf of their neighbors;

    With Bostonians, she is a great favorite. Her history is known to nearly all. She is gazed upon with respectful regard, and affectionate admiration, by old and young, male and female; her mind is well informed – her intellectual powers thoroughly trained – her moral character above reproach – her connections highly respectable – and her friends cannot be numbered. A bright career is open to her, and the highest histrionic chaplet awaits her brow. But enough – she can speak for herself.

    Since writing the preceding paragraphs, I have had the pleasure of witnessing Mrs. M.’s personation of Knowles’ Julia, and cannot close this article without a brief notice of that effort.

    The house was not quite so full as on the two former evenings, owing to the oppressively hot weather. But the character of Julia, the prominent one in the Hunchback, was presented with most wonderful effect. The personation was a fine specimen of the highest degree of histrionic art. It may be reasonably doubted whether any artist, now living or dead, ever acted the part so well. The actual Julia seemed to be before us on the stage. Never was mortified pride or pure affection so truly made tangible. Around was

    “Many an eye with sorrow wet.”

    Her figure, action, expression, dress, voice, modulation, all were critically appropriate, and combined to make the effect decided and thrilling.

    It is but an act of justice to add, that Mrs. Mowatt, on this occasion, was most admirably supported by Mr. Marshall; who, while he gave some new phases to the minutia of Master Walter’s part, did, at the same time, truly and artistically present the Hunchback in a superior manner. Mrs. M. was called from her dressing room at the close of the second act to receive the prolonged applause of her appreciating admirers – and the call was repeated at the close of the performance.11

    Ad for "Lady of Lyons"
    Ad for “Lady of Lyons”

    I particularly enjoy how this columnist, after promoting Mowatt, does not wait for someone officially designated as a drama critic to pass judgement, but feels fully comfortable with providing a critique of the play themselves. Again, the writing here, as in other similar compositions from Bostonians advocating on Mowatt’s behalf during her stay in October, has the feel of a democratic gesture. The impression is that these are average citizens exercising their right of free speech to come to the aid of a fellow American they genuinely admire. There is a general feeling of protective affection that runs through these compositions that one writer expresses as follows;

    We never see her upon the stage that we do not feel, what a friend of ours so eloquently expressed while witnessing her simple and childlike Juliet, that we should like to fold her in our arms as we should and innocent and unaffected child, with a hearty “God bless you, darling.”12

    Anna Cora Mowatt as Pauline in "Lady of Lyons" 1848
    Anna Cora Mowatt as Pauline in “Lady of Lyons” 1848

    The most sentimental and affectionate contributions are the two poems. One was written specifically in tribute to Mowatt’s performance as Pauline by a poet signing herself only as “Ellen;”

    To Mrs. Anna Cora Mowatt, As “Pauline”

    In fancy, still I see thee stand before me,
    Portraying first, a girl’s most winning grace,
    With all the knowledge of thy peerless beauty,
    In conscious power, — pictured on thy face.

    And when to life, thy woman’s heart awakened,
    Kindled and fed, by love’s sweet magic tone,
    Then all thy wealth of tenderness, unshaken,
    Was lavished, where thy scorn, had once been borne.

    And, in the struggles of thy wounded pride,
    When outraged love, its sad revenge had wrought,
    In thy deep agony of grief, then died
    Each lighter feeling, every wayward thought.
    A woman’s noblest nature, then uprose,
    From the sad ruin of thy girlhood’s dream –
    And proved that love divine, doth e’er enclose
    “Its own redemption,” in its glorious beams.

    To realize this charm, thy Genius’ power,
    Wins our responsive hearts, to throb with thine;
    And in thy matchless Grace, behold the dower
    Which Nature gives, o’er all thy gifts to shine. 13

    Poetry is an ambiguous mode of expression which allows for a great deal of leeway in interpretation. The original author left no definitive guide as to how this poem should be read. However, I feel that the poet’s emphasis on the experiences of the “girl” versus those of the “woman” is guiding us to see this poem as a call to view Mowatt’s performance as Pauline as metaphor for framing the actress’ transforming sojourn in London. Like Pauline, Mowatt was deceived. Like Pauline, she emerged sadder but wiser from the experience. In this poem, then, is embedded the opposite meaning from the vicious message implicit in the Sunday Dispatch article I quoted in the opening of this entry. Mowatt’s trials in England had not revealed her to be a corrupt, second-rate fraud. Instead the difficulties and heart-break she had undergone had challenged and matured the actress, making her a better artist, more able to communicate the subtleties of the human condition to her audience.

    In the end, the version of Mowatt shaped by the sort of publicity generated by her tour at the Howard Athenaeum won out over the sour and cynical view a less friendly press cast of her in the city of Brotherly Love. The Bostonian articles and press releases were reprinted as she continued a tour of U.S. playhouses for the rest of the year that was – for the most part – successful. Ultimately these positive appraisals would make their way into biographical sketches that would become Mowatt’s legacy.

    Illustration for Gleason's Pictorial Drawing Room Companion, 1851
    Illustration for Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing Room Companion, 1851

    The reasons for Mowatt’s success were many: She was disciplined and worked hard to give high quality performances. Mowatt was mindful of her public image and actively cultivated good relationships with the press. She had a powerful ally in Epes Sargent at the Boston Transcript who helped plant stories with positive spin. Additionally, at this time, theater managers needed celebrity performers to draw audiences to playhouses. It was in ultimately in their best interests that Mowatt succeed. Perhaps as well, despite the strict moral codes of the times and limited career and social options for women, the actress’ narrative as a widow trying to make a way for herself despite the odds against her appealed to the hearts of many in the public. Americans can sometimes be counted on to have a soft spot for an underdog.

    For each of these factors in her favor, though, there were twice as many difficulties complicating Mowatt’s professional and personal path forward. Next week, see how she fares on tour alone!

    Anna Cora Mowatt in Boston and Philadelphia, 1851
    Anna Cora Mowatt in Boston and Philadelphia, 1851

    1. Knickerbocker. “Our New York Correspondence.” Sunday Dispatch. September 31, 1851. Page 2, col. 6-7.
    2. “The Theatre.” Sunday Dispatch. Sunday Dispatch. October 12, 1851. Page 2, col 6.
    3. North American and United States Gazette. October 7, 1851. Page 2, col 3.
    4. City Amusements. Dollar Newspaper, October 22, 1851. Page 3, col. 3.
    5. “The Theatre.” Sunday Dispatch. Sunday Dispatch. October 12, 1851. Page 2, col 6.
    6. H. M. S. “Town Talk – Theatres in Boston.” Boston Daily Mail. Saturday, September 13, 1851. Page 2, col 4.
    7. Ibid.
    8. “Affairs in and About the City.” Daily Atlas: Boston. Monday, September 22, 1851. Page 2, col. 4.
    9. Ned. “Romeo and Juliet.” The Boston Daily Bee. Saturday, September 20, 1851. Page 1, col. 1.
    10. H—Time. “Odds and Ends about Home.” Boston Daily Statesman. Saturday, September 27, 1851. Page 2, col. 8.
    11. Ibid.
    12. H.M.S. “Town Talk.” Boston Daily Mail. September 27, 1851. Page 2, col. 4.
    13. Ellen. “To Anna Cora Mowatt as ‘Pauline.’” Boston Evening Transcript. Saturday, September 13, 1851. Page 1, col. 3.