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Life of an Actress

GUL, Sp Coll, Northern Looking Glass

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Life of an Actress

Coloured cartoon from the Northern looking Glass 14 November 1825, with a cynical view of the rags-to-riches "Life of an Actress". The Latin auspicium melioris aevi means "hope for a better time".

On the ladder to success, the heroine of the tale climbs from her humble home (or is it a public house cellar?) to performing before a small audience and then in a theatre. She catches the eye of a wealthy and elderly suitor and becomes his mistress. She inherits his wealth when he dies and then is courted by a number of gentlemen. Finally, she marries a very rich man, apparently one with a title.

Theatre-going was immensely popular in Great Britain in the 19th century and the great actors and actresses of the day were among the most famous people in the land. They appeared on stages all over the country and their careers and lives were the subject of breathless coverage in the newspapers. This cartoon may have been inspired by the scandalous life of the actress Miss Foote.

Reference: Sp Coll Bh14-x.8

Glasgow University Library, Special Collections

actors, actresses, audiences, cellars, drama, Glasgow Looking Glass, lithographs, mistresses, Northern Looking Glass, pubs, theatres, widows, women

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