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Gleason’s  Pictorial Drawing Room Companion,

Boston, Saturday, September 27, 1851

Page 268

Anna C. Mowatt

This lovely actress, whose late return from Europe, after her husband’s death, but with more professional skill, has attracted much attention among theatre-goers.Masthead of Gleason's Pictorial Drawing Room Companion The style in which our artist has presented her here, is as she appears in the character of Lucia di Lammermoor.  By her friends, it is considered the best engraving, as it regards a likeness, yet published of her. At the age of fifteen, Mrs. Mowatt became the wife of Mr. James Mowatt, a barrister, of New York city.  The home of the happy couple was at a beautiful villa on Long Island, and it at once became the resort of the literati of New York.  As early as the first year of her marriage, Mrs. Mowatt published two volumes of original poems. 

In the year 1841, on account of ill health, she visited Europe in company with her husband passing about two years in France and Germany, much improving her health, and finding time to write one or two dramatic works for private circulation.  In the meantime, her husband, by some constitutional weakness, nearly lost the use of his eyes; and, on their return to America, was obliged to give up his profession entirely, and embark his fortune in business.  But few men how have lived professional lives, and who have pursued that course of life in early years which is designed to fit them for such a career, Anna Cora Mowatt as Lucia in Gleason's Pictorial Drawing Room Companionhave sufficient tact to adapt themselves to mercantile occupation and business pursuits. 

The consequence of Mr. Mowatt’s commercial speculations was, that he lost all and failed.  It was then that his good angel stepped forward to rescue him from despair.  His wife – who had from childhood seemed to be a favorite of genius, in spite of the diffidence that naturally rose up in her sensitive breast – resolved, by a public exhibition of those rare qualities which Heaven has granted her, to resuscitate his fallen fortunes. 

This is the story of Mrs. Mowatt’s professional career.  While in Paris, she was a frequent student of Rachel’s classical and severe style of acting.  While here, Mrs. Mowatt also wrote a five-act play, entitled “Gulzara,” of which the critics speak very highly.  In 1845, Mrs. Mowatt wrote a comedy entitled, “Fashion,” which was performed at the Park Theatre, New York, several nights with greater success than had attended any other American comedy.  In June, 1845, Mrs. Mowatt made her debut on the stage at the Park Theatre, as Pauline, in the “Lady of Lyons;” and, says the New York critic, “we doubt if ever debutante met with success so brilliant and unequivocal.” 

Her Juliana, Juliet, Mariana, and Lucy Ashton are beautiful and chaste in the extreme.  In her own play of “Armand,” she has perhaps, made a deeper impression as an actress and a lady of decided talent.  But it is not only as an actress and an authoress of merit that we are to admire Mrs. Mowatt; in her private relations and fireside life, she shines with similar brilliancy.  During Mrs. Mowatt’s engagement in this city, her audiences have been of the most select and discriminating character; and yet the Howard has been nightly filled to its utmost capacity.  Never has she performed with more spirit or success, and never has she appeared to more advantage since the commencement of her professional career.

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Cover for "The Lady Actress"

For more in-depth information and analysis
Mowatt's life and career, read
The Lady Actress:
Recovering the Lost Legacy of a Victorian American Superstar

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