Sunday, 9 May 2010

Sophia Baddeley 18th Century's Stage Beauty

So this being my first post and I thought Mrs. Baddeley, the English beauty of the eighteenth century is the perfect start to my blog. Her painting here shows her and her husband in Colman's play The Clandestine Marriage. Enjoy!!!!

Sophia Baddeley with her uncommon beauty and her beautiful voice was a very famous 18th century actress and courtesan. She was famed for her lovers that included Viscount Melbourne, Charles Holland an actor, Lord Grosvenor, George Garrick, Duke of York amongst many others. Due to her popularity and her many admirers she was able to attend social balls that were usually closed to 'improper' woman. One story says that when she tried to attend the Pantheon a concert hall situated in the fashionable Oxford Street and was refused by the guards, around fifty of her devoted admirers came to her rescue with a plan of action. They got their swords and threatened to "run them through" if she was not allowed in and so the frightened guards let her pass, after this the managers had to "beg Mrs. Baddeley's pardon, for the insult". The incident was recorded in Town and Country Magazine and apparently after this other theatre actresses were admitted as well.

She was born to middle class family, her father Valentine Show was once Sergeant-Trumpeter to George II and was now Theatrical musician and was keen to see her daughter Sofia embark on a career as a harpsichord player. Yet she hated she hated the lesions and when she was introduced to Robert Baddeley who was a player at Drury Lane Theatre she got married. Though her husbands connections she embarked on an acting career paying leading parts in The beggar's Opera, Cymbeline, As you like it , Twelfth Night amongst others.
It seems however that she was never a great actress yet with her beautiful voice and angelic looks her not so impressive acting was forgotten by the audience who loved her. At this time she started to live separately from her husband as their marriage having had failed. She became increasingly famous for her beauty even the Duke of Ancaster called her "absolutely one of the wonders of the age" and that she certainly was. Her life was full of drama including the famous bloodless dual fought between her husband and her lover George Garrick.
She once embarked on an affair with with the brother of Lord Coleraine who was previously also her lover and after living a life of reckless spending he unwillingly had to leave her. Sofia in her devastation took an overdose of laudanum after which she could barely walk even after six weeks, this caused her to be addicted to laudanum for the rest of her life. Yet she recovered after this to become one of the most famous courtesans of her age.
However she was growing older and due to her reckless spending and unsuccessful love affairs she lived in very modest means, her expensive jewels sold, all her luxuries gone she died at the age of only forty-one surrounded by her actor friends.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely blog! :) Very interesting indeed!