User:Rich Farmbrough/DNB/P/r/Priscilla Kemble

{{subst:Quick infobox|Priscilla Kemble|1756|1845|}} Priscilla Kemble (born 1756 died 1845), actress, wife of John Philip Kemble, born in 1756, was daughter of a prompter named Hopkins, employed for many years at Drury Lane. Her mother (d. September 1801) was an actress of repute in Garrick's company. An elder sister appeared as Miss Hopkins at Drury Lane on 14 November 1771, playing Cupid, a postilion, in 'A Trip to Scotland;' made on 19 April 1773 what was called her first appearance on any stage as Celia in 'As you like it;' acted with success for a few seasons, married a man of means, and retired from the stage, to which she returned, as Mrs. Sharp, in 1779 and 1780. Priscilla Hopkins is first heard of as a member of Garrick's company at Drury Lane, playing Mildred in 'Old City Manners', an adaptation of 'Eastward Ho!' on 9 November 1775. She had probably been previously seen as a young lady. Fanny in the 'Clandestine Marriage' followed on 20 November, and Maria in the 'Maid of the Oaks' on the 28th. She was, 15 February 1776, the original Harriet in Mrs. Cowley's 'Runaway', and on 7 March the original Eliza in Colman's 'Spleen, or Islington Spa'. During the following season she played at Drury Lane Sylvia in the 'Old Bachelor;' was the original Kitty Sprightly in Jackman's 'All the World's a Stage', and, 8 May 1777, the original Maria in the 'School for Scandal'. Other parts followed: Bridget in 'Every Man in his Humour', Arabella in the 'Committee', Mademoiselle in the 'Provoked Wife', and Fanny in the 'Clandestine Marriage', played for the benefit of 'the Miss Hopkins's', 1 May 1778. She was at this time very pretty and piquante, and married, apparently at Bath, William Brereton, an actor of some position, born in 1741, who had played for some years at Drury Lane, where he appeared on 10 November 1768 in 'Douglas'. On 8 October 1778, as Louisa Dudley in the 'West Indian', she appeared for the first time at Drury Lane as Mrs. Brereton, late Miss P. Hopkins. Her married life was reputable, and she occupied in a satisfactory fashion a secondary part on the stage, playing Lady Constant in the 'Way to Keep Him', Charlotte in the 'Gamester', Sylvia in the 'Double Gallant', Elizabeth (an original part) in Mrs. Cowley's 'Who's the Dupe?' Mariana in the 'Miser', Perdita, Amanda in the 'Trip to Scarborough', Fidelia in the 'Foundling', Angelina in 'Love makes a Man', Rose in the 'Recruiting Officer', Maria in 'Twelfth Night', Donna Viola (an original part) on 25 November 1786 in Mrs. Cowley's 'School for Greybeards', Margaret in 'A New Way to Pay Old Debts', and many other parts, original and other, chiefly secondary. Brereton, her husband, went in 1785 to Dublin, where he attempted suicide; it is hinted through a passion for Mrs. Siddons. A partial recovery was effected, but he was kept in charge at Hoxton. 'He died 17 February 1787, and was buried in Shoreditch churchyard, in which a stone is erected to his memory' (Thespian Dict.) His widow appeared at Drury Lane on 12 March 1787 as the original Emily in Holcroft's 'Seduction'. On the opening night of the next season, 20 September 1787, she was Dorinda in the 'Stratagem'. On 8 December 1787 she married John Philip Kemble, and as Mrs. Kemble appeared on 10 December as Lady Anne in 'Richard III'. Hero in 'Much Ado about Nothing' was her next part. She was the original Aurora in Kemble's 'Pannel', and Flora in his 'Farm House'. On 2 December 1788 she was Lady Lambert in the 'Hypocrite', and on 15 January 1790 Sylvia in 'Two Gentlemen of Verona', and 8 March 1790 the original Valeria in her husband's 'Love in many Masks'. With the company she went to the Haymarket Opera House, where she was, 20 April 1792, the original Miss Manly in Richardson's 'Fugitive'. Her position as wife to Kemble seems to have in no way aided her career. Not only important parts, but also those in which she had won acceptance, seem to have been withheld from her. On 23 May 1796 accordingly, as Flavia in Kemble's 'Celadon and Florimel, or the Happy Counterplot', then first performed, she delivered an address, and took farewell of the stage. She accompanied her husband in his wanderings subsequent to his retirement, and after his death retired to Leamington, where she lived in comfort and social consideration until her ninetieth year. She died in May 1845. She retained her faculties, and was popular to the last. Having no offspring, her property and possessions went to members of the Kemble and Siddons family. Genest speaks of her as pretty, but not very capable, and says she was seen to most advantage in parts like Maria in the 'School for Scandal'.[DNB 1][DNB 2][DNB 3][DNB 4][DNB 5][1]


  1.   This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain

    J. K.

    (1892). "Kemble, Priscilla (DNB00)". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography 30. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 0.

DNB referencesEdit

These references are found in the DNB article referred to above.

  1. Genest's Account of the English Stage
  2. Thespian Dictionary
  3. Gilliland's Dramatic Mirror
  4. Monthly Mirror
  5. Dramatic and Musical Rev.

External linksEdit


Template:Use dmy dates Template:Use British English Template:Person data Template:Improve categories