Frances Anne Kemble letter

Frances Anne Kemble letter

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Hargrett Manuscripts
Creator: Kemble, Fanny, 1809-1893
Title: Frances Anne Kemble letter
Dates: circa 1844
Quantity: 0.05 Linear feet (1 folder housed with minor collections MS 1591 - MS 1607)
Abstract:Collection consists of a letter from Frances (Fanny) Kemble to her cousin (unnamed) circa 1844. In the letter Kemble discusses two books she has sent her cousin, one recently published. Included is an engraving print of a painting of Frances by Sir Thomas Lawrence, which she references in her letter. The letter appears to have been sent from the Saint James hotel in London.
Coll. Number: ms1601(m)

Biographical/Historical Note

Frances Anne Kemble was a famous British actress and author in the nineteenth century. Born in London in 1809 and educated in France, "Fanny" as she was called was a member of the famous Kemble theatrical family. She appeared in several important plays in London and also toured in Boston.

In the middle 1830s Kemble retired from the stage to marry Pierce Butler, an American and heir to a considerable fortune. After they were married Pierce Butler had inherited several hundred slaves to work his cotton, tobacco and rice plantations. When Fanny accompanied him to Georgia during the winter of 1838-39, she was horrified by the conditions of the slaves and their treatment, causing much tension in the marriage; the couple later divorced in 1849 and Kemble returned to acting in order to support herself.

During her short time living in Georgia Fanny kept a diary that became well known among abolitionists prior to the Civil War. Her Journal of A Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1838-1839, was published in both England and the United States in 1863. Throughout her lifetime Kemble was outspoken in her opposition to slavery and contributed considerable donations to charitable causes including attempts to improve the lives of former slaves. She died in January 1893.

Index Terms


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation note

Frances Anne Kemble letter, MS 1601. Hargrett Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, University of Georgia Libraries.

Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

2Print of engraving depicting Kemble