Fannie Anne Kemble
Fannie Anne Kemble, 1809 - 1893
Frances “Fannie” Anne Kemble might best be describes as a Renaissance woman. The actress/author/public reader was born in London England, the oldest daughter of actors Charles Kemble and Maria Theresa De Camp. Although she never really liked acting, she gained critical success in Europe and America. Kemble was fascinated by the new republic of America, and in 1834, while touring with the Park Theater Company in New York, she met and married Pierce Butler, a Pennsylvanian heir to a large Georgian plantation.
Kemble retired from the stage after her marriage, and in May 1835, she published a two-volume work entitled Journal of a Residence in America. An independently minded woman with keen insights, she freely wrote her impressions of American culture, which also included good-natured but biting criticisms of her adopted culture. The book was not received favorably, probably because the American public did not appreciate her criticism of their country. Meanwhile, life on her husband’s prosperous Souther plantation and growing realization of how slave owners gained their riches caused Kemble to revolt against the institution of slaver. Her abolitionist stance caused a widening gap in her marriage to Butler, who divorced Kemble in 1848. Kemble published her attacks against slaver in Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation. By shedding light on the issue of slavery and attacking its evils, this second publication by Kemble won support for the North on her native England. The Union did not need to fear England supporting the Confederacy.
Kemble won the infatuation and admiration of such notables as William Wadsworth Longfellow, who wrote a sonnet to her. She continued to lead a life in the spotlight - achieving a reputation for genius and unconventional trendsetting - until her death on London in 1893.