A Spectacle of Suffering: Clara Morris on the American Stage by Barbara Wallace Grossman

By Barbara Wallace Grossman

As soon as referred to as "America's maximum actress," well known for the eagerness and gear of her performances, Clara Morris (1847-1925) has been principally forgotten. A Spectacle of discomfort: Clara Morris at the American level is the 1st full-length examine of the actress's value as a feminist within the overdue 19th and early 20th centuries. Detailing her daunting illnesses and the altering tastes in leisure that ended in her retirement from the level, Barbara Wallace Grossman explores Morris's dramatic reinvention as an writer. in the course of a moment strong profession, she released 1000s of newspaper and journal articles and 9 books—six works of fiction and 3 memoirs. Grossman attracts at the fifty-four-volume diary that Morris stored from 1868 until eventually 1924, in addition to at the manuscript fragments and notes of journalist George T. MacAdam, who died in 1929 ahead of finishing the actress's biography. Grossman presents a dramatic account of Morris's existence and paintings from her early years, via an unsatisfied marriage, morphine habit, and invalidism, to the demanding situations of traveling, the decline of her inventive acceptance, and the calls for of the writing profession she pursued so tenaciously. A Spectacle of discomfort finds how Morris, even after experiencing blindness and the lack of her domestic, livelihood, and relatives, didn't succumb to melancholy and located convenience within the small pleasures of her circumscribed existence. A Spectacle of affliction recovers a major determine in American theatre and guarantees that Morris should be remembered no longer easily as an actress yet as a revered author and cherished public determine, widespread for her braveness in facing adversity. The publication, that is greater by means of twenty-four illustrations, is the one released biography of Clara Morris. it truly is as a lot a tribute to the ability of the human spirit because it is an efficient technique of exploring American theatre and society within the Gilded Age.   

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Actually, the danger is far greater than she could have imagined. ” Within months of their wedding, Selina discovers that her husband is having an affair. She decides to ignore his infidelity and to focus on his positive qualities, not the least of which is that he treats her more kindly than anyone else has for most of her life. After a year and a half of marriage, they have a daughter and are reasonably happy. Then, on one “awful day,” Selina learns the shocking truth and understands why their wedding ceremony took place surreptitiously: her husband is a bigamist as well as a philanderer.

She did not comment further but wrote instead about financial matters: “A gentleman from [Erie] Savings Bank called for information about Eliza Burt, I could give none—Her account will expire unclaimed shortly by limitation of the law and I—or mother—am the natural heir. . ”24 Because Mollie Revel had said that Morris’s sister’s name was Eliza, MacAdam went to Buffalo to inquire about Eliza Burt. He met with the president of the Erie Savings Bank, who produced documents confirming that Eliza P.

Morris constructs a scene worthy of the most vivid stage melodrama. Selina is at home with her baby when “a woman half mad with passion” bursts into the room. She identifies herself as Lucie Laballe [sic], Charles’s wife and the mother of their three grown sons. Cursing her rival, she draws a dagger from her dress and lunges, nicking the baby’s arm. The sight of her child’s blood enrages Selina. After shaking Lucie so violently she drops the dagger, Selina pushes her away and returns the weapon with a contemptuous kick.

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