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Sarah Siddons - Actress: 1755-1831

Sarah was born Sarah Kemble in Brecon, Brecknockshire, Wales, the eldest daughter of Roger Kemble, an actor-manager whose travelling company included most members of his family. Even as a small child, Sarah worked as an actress in her father's company but acting was only just becoming a respectable profession for a woman and initially her parents disapproved of her taking up the profession.They only gave reluctant permission for her to marry actor, William Siddons, in 1773.

Her first appearance at Drury Lane in 1774 was not a success and she toured the provinces for the next six years. However her next Drury Lane appearance, on 10 October 1782, could not have been more different. She was an immediate sensation playing the title role in Garrick's adaptation of a play by Thomas Southerne, Isabella, or, The Fatal Marriage. She became known for her dignity, for her deep, rich voice, and for dramatic gestures. For 20 years, she reigned as queen of tragedy at the Drury Lane Theatre, specialising in William Shakespeare's tragic heroines. In 1802 she left Drury Lane and subsequently appeared from time to time on the stage of the rival establishment, Covent Garden. It was there, on 29 June 1812, that she gave her farewell performance as Lady Macbeth, her most famous role.

She achieved acceptance in polite society when in 1783 she was asked to perform readings at Buckingham Palace as well as give the royal children elocution lessons.

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