Person NameSiddons; Harriet (1783-1844); actress and wife of Henry Siddons
Epithetactress and wife of Henry Siddons
ActivityBorn in 1783, was a daughter of Charles Murray (1754-1821). As a young child she appeared at Bath as Prince Arthur on 1 July 1793. Her first London appearance was at Covent Garden as Perdita (‘Winter's Tale’), 12 May 1798. She remained at that theatre until the summer of 1805, when she joined the Drury Lane company, together with her husband. She left it with him in 1809. At Covent Garden she played with success a large range of parts, such as Rosalind, Viola, Lady Townly, Lucy Ashton, Desdemona, Beatrice, Portia, Lady Teazle, and Miss Hardcastle. At Drury Lane on 24 Sept. 1805 she was Juliet to Elliston's Romeo. After moving to Edinburgh, she devoted herself to helping her husband in his managerial work, which from the first proved to be too arduous for him. In 1814 the Drury Lane management made her a tempting offer to play leading female parts to Kean; she, however, declined it.
When Siddons died the affairs of the Edinburgh Theatre were in a bad condition, but, with quiet determination and the unremitting assistance of her brother, William Henry Murray, she continued to steer clear of all difficulties, and eventually was able to retire, at the end of her twenty-one years' lease of the theatre, with a competence. The turning point in the fortunes of the house had been the production on 15 Feb. 1819 of ‘Rob Roy,’ in which Mackay made a great hit as the Bailie. When the same piece was played by royal command before George IV, on the occasion of his visit to Scotland, Mrs. Siddons played, for that night only, the part of Diana Vernon. Mrs. Siddons's farewell benefit took place on 29 March 1830. Sir Walter Scott wrote for the occasion an address which she delivered. She died on 2 Nov. 1844. She was highly esteemed both in private and in public life.
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