Harriet Siddons

16 April 1783 – 1844

Actor, Singer & Theatre Manager

Harriet Siddons, before her marriage Harriet Murray, sometimes Mrs. Henry Siddons was a Scottish actress and theatre manager.

She was a daughter of Charles Murray. As a young child she appeared at Bath as Prince Arthur on 1 July 1793. Her first London appearance was at Covent Garden Theatre as Perdita in The Winter's Tale, 12 May 1798. She remained at the theatre until the summer of 1805, when she joined the Drury Lane company, together with her husband Henry Siddons. She left it with him in 1809. At Drury Lane on 24 September 1805 she was Juliet to Robert William Elliston's Romeo.

After moving to Edinburgh, Siddons devoted herself to helping her husband in his managerial work. In 1814 the Drury Lane management made her a tempting offer to play leading female parts to Edmund Kean, but she declined. When Henry Siddons died the affairs of the Edinburgh Theatre were in a bad state, but, with her brother William Henry Murray, she continued to steer clear of all difficulties, and eventually was able to retire at the end of her 21 years' lease of the theatre. The turning point in the fortunes of the house had been the production on 15 February 1819 of Rob Roy, in which Charles Mackay made a hit as the Bailie. When the same piece was played by royal command before George IV, on the occasion of his visit to Scotland, Siddons played, for that night only, the part of Diana Vernon.

Siddons's farewell benefit took place on 29 March 1830, and Sir Walter Scott wrote for the occasion an address which she delivered. She died on 2 November 1844.

Siddons held a peculiar position in Edinburgh, her widowed condition and personal attractions combining to win the, sympathy and admiration of its best society, while her high character and blameless conduct secured the respect and esteem of her theatrical subjects and the general public, with whom she was an object of almost affectionate personal regard, and in whose favour, as long as she exercised her profession, she continued to hold the first place, in spite of their temporary enthusiasm for the great London stars who visited them at stated seasons.

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