Actors, Musicians and Theatre Personalities with Scottish Links ~ Harriet Elizabeth Faucit 1789 - 1857

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Harriet Elizabeth Faucit, 1789-1857

Portrait of Harriet Faucit (nee Diddear), 1817 Stipple Etching by Thomson after a painting by Rose E. Drummond 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches, Publisher J. Bell. Original in University of Illinois Theatrical Print Collection. [Image in the public domain.]

Mrs. John Saville (Harriet Diddear) was born in 1789.  She made her professional debut at Dover in 1804, and in 1805 was married to John Saville Faucit.   With him she acted successively at Richmond, on the Norwich circuit, and at Newcastle, making her first appearance in London at Covent Garden on October 7, 1813, as Desdemona, which was followed by her Juliet, her Volumnia, her Queen in 'Richard III,' and so forth. Among her other roles were Cleopatra. Lady Constance, Ilennione, Isabella ('Fatal Marriage'), Belvidera ('Venice Preserved'), Lady Teazle, the Widow Cheerly, etc.

Following the divorce of Harriet Saville and John Saville Faucit, Harriet had married William Farren in 1825.   On the death of her husband, in 1857, she married William Farren (1786-1861).  

'For tragic assumptions generally,' wrote a contemporary critic, 'we do not think her eminently qualified; she is better calculated to represent the heroines of melodrama or the sentimentalists of comedy.'  She retired from the stage in 1824.

'She was,' says Sir Theodore Martin, 'tall and singularly handsome, and her fine figure and distinction of manner appear to have given a special charm to her varied accomplishments as an actress.'

John Saville Faucit and Harriet Elizabeth Saville, both actors, were the parents of Harriet and Helen Faucit.  Both girls were trained for the stage by their step-uncle, Percy Farren.  (Harriet Faucit made her debut in London, 1843, and died in America in 1847).

[Text based on various sources including Oxberry's 'Dramatic Biography,' 1825.]

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Harriet Elizabeth Faucit, 1789-1857

Harriet Faucit as Lady Racket, 1820,  Stipple Etching by Thomson, after drawing by Thomas Charles Wageman (1787 – 1863).  Dimensions 4 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches. Publishers Simpkin & Marshall Co. and Chaple.  University of Illinois Theatrical Print Collection.  (This image is in the public domain.)

There is an illustration in the Beard Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum showing Mrs Faucit entitled  Antony and Cleopatra, 1813: Mrs. Faucit (1789-1857) mocks Antony (1.3.83-5) in J. P. Kemble's Covent Garden staging.  [LINK]  Engraving by Henry Cook, after painting by Samuel De Wilde: 1814.

As seen here, ladies' costumes on stage were by this time a little less distracting and less obviously anachronistic than Augustan ones, but William Hazlitt still considered Faucit's performance as merely the affected levity of a modern lady? (Morning Chronicle, 16 Nov. 1813).  Faucit was known variously as Harriet Elizabeth Diddear, later Mrs. John Saville Faucit and then as the second Mrs William Farren the younger.

Theatrical records show that Faucit played in the following performances:

My wife, or, My place: a petite comedy in two acts by Shannon, Charles at the Haymarket Theatre London in 1831, with Thackeray, Chapple, Farren, Vining, Achurch and Webster.

Evadne; or, The statue: a tragedy, in five acts by Sheil: as performed at the Theatre Royal, Covent-Garden in 1819, with Abbott, Harriet Elizabeth Diddear, Kemble, C., Macready, William Charles, O'Neill

Rob Roy Macgregor, or, Auld lang syne! : an opera by Pocock, Royal Opera House London, in 1820, with | Davy, Blanchard, Chapple, Harriet Elizabeth Diddear , Egerton, Mrs. Egerton, Macready, Oxberry, Simpkin, Marshall and Co.

Virginius : a tragedy in five acts : as performed at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden by Knowles, James Sheridan, in 1820. with Cornwall, Abbott, Harriet Elizabeth Diddear, Egerton, Mrs Foote, Jeffries, Kemble C. and Macready.

Married life, a comedy by Buckstone, in three acts performed at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket 1834, with Becks, Cowie, Harriet Elizabeth Diddear, Farren Mrs Glover, Strange and Vining.

Hofer, the Tell of the Tyrol an historical opera, in three acts by Planché at Drury Lane Theatre Royal, with . Bedford, Bishop, Bland, Harriet Elizabeth Diddear, Goulding, D'Almaine. Mallett, Phillips, Vestris, Miss Bartolozzi and Webster.

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