Roles played by Anna Cora Mowatt


Roles Played by Anna Cora Mowatt

A History of Her Decade on Stage

The tables below chronicle Anna Cora Mowatt's career as an actress from her debut at the Park Theatre in 1845 to her retirement in the spring of 1854.  Some peculiarities of this time to be aware of as you read -- At this time, the U.S. theatre world was not Broadway-centered.   Leading performers toured playhouses scattered up and down the Eastern seaboard.  Neither was an evening at the theater necessarily limited to only one production as is standard today.  In the U.S., a night at a venue like the Park might feature a  full-length play and a short comedy to finish off the night.  At Niblo's Garden, there might be only one show, but with a concert or fireworks before or after and a  40 minute intermission to allow visitors to enjoy refreshments at the on-site beer-garden or ice-cream parlor.  In  London, Victorian playbills usually featured three shows - a five-act main feature, a one-act, and a farce to round out the night.

Mowatt's Debut Year

This was an incredible period of study and productivity for Mowatt. After a sensational debut, she spent her first year on-stage performing almost constantly.  She rehearsed, mastered, and performed at least twenty-three roles in her first year.  She performed dramatic monologues from several other plays as well.

Anna Cora Mowatt as Pauline in "Lady of Lyons"




Lady of Lyons  
Park Theater, New York, NY 
June, 1845
Walnut St.Theater, Philadelphia, PA 
June, 1845
“The Honeymoon”  
Niblo’s Garden, New York, NY 
July, 1845
Lucy Ashton
“The Bride of Lammermoor”   
Walnut St.Theater, Philadelphia, PA 
June, 1845
Duchess  Faint Heart Never Won Fair Lady  
Niblo’s Garden, New York, NY 
July, 1845
Lady Freelove  “A Day After the Wedding” Niblo’s Garden,New York, NY 
July, 1845
“Katherine and Petruchio”
Niblo’s Garden, New York, NY July, 1845
“The Wife” Park Theater, New York, NY August, 1845
Margret “Love’s Sacrifice” 
Park Theater, New York, NY August, 1845
Romeo and Juliet 
Chestnut St.Theater, Philadelphia, PA Sept., 1845
Mrs. Haller
“The Stranger” Chestnut St. Theater, Philadelphia, PA
Lady Teazle
School for Scandal
Niblo’s Garden, New York, NY 
Oct. 1845
Lady Gay  
London Assurance 
Niblo’s Garden, New York, NY Oct. 1845
Grace Harkaway London Assurance Niblo’s Garden, New York, NY 
Oct., 1845
“Change Makes Change”   
Park Theatre, New York, NY
Oct. 6, 1845
“Don Caesar de Bazan”
The Theatre, Charleston, SC
Dec., 1845
Jane Shore Jane Shore
The Theatre, Charleston, SC 
Dec., 1845
Belvidira “Venice, Preserved” The Theatre, Charleston, SC
Dec., 1845
Nerah O’Connor 
“West End” 
The Theatre, Charleston, SC
Dec., 1845
The Hunchback   
The Theatre, Charleston, SC 
Jan., 1846
Helen Worrett  
“Man and Wife”
St. Charles Theatre, New Orleans, LA 
Feb., 1846
Charles II   
Faint Heart Never Won Fair Lady 
St. Charles Theatre, New Orleans, LA
April, 1846
Holiday St. Theatre., Baltimore, MD     
May, 1846

U.S. Tour (E.L. Davenport Joins Mowatt)

After an unsatisfactory experience with her first acting partner, William Crisp, Mowatt hired E.L. Davenport.  Together, they toured the U.S. to mounting public acclaim and critical success.  During this period, Mowatt wrote her second play, "Armand."  This romantic drama was designed especially to feature her and her new leading man's particular talents.

Anna Cora Mowatt as Blanche


Bianca   “Fazio”  Buffalo Theatre, Buffalo, NY Sept. 1846
Beatrice Much Ado About Nothing Park Theatre, New York, NY Sept., 1846
Marchioness de Clermont “King O’Neill and the Irish Brigade” Park Theatre, NY Oct., 1846
Countess “Love”  Howard Athenaeum, Boston, MA Nov. 5, 1846
Madelon “The Trumpeter’s Daughter” Mobile, AL          Jan, 1846
Ion Ion     St. Charles Theatre, New Orleans, LA Feb. 12, 1847
Portia    Merchant of Venice Mobile, AL Feb. 24, 1847
Desdemona Othello Mobile, AL          March 2, 1847
Izadora Velasco Pittsburgh, PA   April, 1847
Rachel Heywood “Rent Day” Athenaeum, Cincinnati, OH May 13, 1847
Blanche                Armand Park Theater, NY Sept. 27, 1847


European Tour  (1847-1851)

Anna Cora Mowatt and E.L. Davenport sailed for England in November of 1848.  They played the Theatre Royal in Manchester before being engaged by the manager of the Princess Theatre in London.  Their next major appearance was at Henry Spicer's Olympic Theatre.  Mowatt and Davenport would debut roles in original scripts by Spicer.  By far the bulk of their work in London was at the Marylebone Theatre.  They worked their from the fall of 1848 until Walter Watts' arrest in March of 1850. Mowatt would not work again for almost a year.  She toured briefly with G.V. Brooke in Ireland before returning to the U.S. in 1851.
Anna Cora Mowatt as Rosalind

"Lords of Ellington"
Olympic Theatre, London
May, 1848
"As You Like It"
Marylebone Theatre, London
Sept., 1848
"The Shadow on the Wall"
Marylebone Theatre, London
Jan., 1849
Marylebone Theatre, London
March, 1849
Mary Tudor
"Mary Tudor"
Marylebone Theatre, London
March, 1849
"The Heart's Trials"
Marylebone Theatre, London
April, 1849
Marylebone Theatre, London
April, 1849
Cecil Howard
"The Witch Wife"
Marylebone Theatre, London
June, 1849
Marylebone Theatre, London
Oct., 1849
"The Love Chase"
Marylebone Theatre, London
Nov. 1849
"Twelfth Night"
Marylebone Theatre, London
Dec., 1849
Royal Olympic Theatre, London
Jan., 1850
"The Noble Heart"
Royal Olympic Theatre, London
Feb., 1850
The Queen
"Richard III"
Theatre Royal, Dublin
Feb., 1851
Mrs. Ormsby Delmain
"The Serious Family"
April, 1851

Return to the U.S. (1851-1854)

Although E.L. Davenport, now married, was able to remain in England and continue his career there, Anna Cora Mowatt returned to the U.S. in 1851, touring alone.  She experienced great success with in the role of Pathenia in the show "Ingomar: the Barbarian."  Her career was on an upswing in 1852 when she suddenly announced that she was going to leave the stage to marry William F. Ritchie, editor of the Richmond Enquirer.  She toured to sold-out playhouses across the eastern seaboard for five months. Mowatt tearfully ended her career as an actress at a gala benefit show at Niblo's Garden in New York on June 3rd, 1854.

Anna Cora Mowatt as the Bride of Lammermore

Holiday Street Theatre, Baltimore
Feb., 1852
Martha Gibbs
"All that Glitters is Not Gold"
Howard Athenaeum, Boston
Feb., 1852
"King Rene's Daughter"
Howard Athenaeum, Boston
Oct., 1852
Anne Blake
"Anne Blake"
Broadway Theatre, New York Dec., 1852
"Adrienne, the Actress"
Howard Athaeum, Boston
Jan., 1853
Corinna; the Improvisitrice"
Charleston, South Carolina
March, 1854


Links have been provided throughout to audio recordings available at Librivox of full cast dramatic readings of plays in which Mowatt played leading roles.

Anna Cora Mowatt's "Autobiography of an Actress" is available online to read here and as an audiobook here.

Further Reading on Mowatt's Acting Career

Anna Cora Mowatt and "The Lady of Lyons" -- This is part one of a twenty part series that traces Mowatt's history with the role that took her from her debut in 1845 to her retirement in 1854.

Anna Cora Mowatt, Juanna, and the London Critics -- a discussion of Mowatt's performance in G.H. Lewes' "Noble Heart" in January of 1850.

Anna Cora Mowatt, Gertrude, and Blanche - a comparison between the two roles Mowatt wrote that she herself portrayed on stage during her career as an actress.

Anna Cora Mowatt in the Forest of Arden
- discussion of Mowatt's portrayl of Shakespeare's Rosalind from "As You Like It."

Return to Anna Cora Mowat index

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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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