- Series: The John Harvard Library (Book 25)
- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Harvard University Press (September 11, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 067400440X
- ISBN-13: 978-0674004405
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #176,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Fanny Kemble's Journals Paperback – October 11, 2000
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From Library Journal
There are those who say Fanny Kemble was born to the stage; others would argue that she was born to write, especially about contemporary England and America. These excerpts from Kemble's diaries, letters, and memoirs attest to her singularity as an observer. Married to a slave owner (whom she later divorced), the English-born Kemble became fiercely opposed to slavery, and her writings on the subject are stirring, fearless, and crusading. In 1863, believing Britain that might side with the Confederacy, Kemble published her antislavery writings (written years earlier) in England, winning many to the abolitionist side. Her views on overseers, the whipping of slaves, their funerals, literacy, mixed-race children, and freedom are sure to make readers bow to Kemble and her pen. Her views on acting, marriage, childbirth, children, motherhood, America, secessionist politics, and the status of women demonstrate a rare intelligence, passion, and imagination. Editor Clinton should be commended for publishing this work along with her new biography of Kemble. Recommended for all public libraries.DRobert L. Kelly, Fort Wayne Community Schs., IN
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The fascination of a modern reader, I think, is partially rooted in the way Kemble braids a modernist sensibility (freedom, women's rights) with conventional prejudices (class, ethnicity). Like Henry James, I find Kemble's journals absorbing, and also like him, I presume, I find her beguiling. (James L. Roark, Emory University)
I enthusiastically recommend Fanny Kemble's Journals. Fanny Kemble has always been one of those mysterious fugitive characters about whom we would like to know more. With this new edition by Kemble's modern biographer, these writings will take their place in college classrooms and on the shelves of readers interested in the theater, the South, the Civil War, and women's studies. To shrink eleven volumes to one manageable one and to include the critical outlines of Kemble's life as well as her observations on aspects of American life such as politics and slavery is quite a triumph. Kemble writings afford readers a fascinating retelling of the outlines of an unusual life. It is not exaggerating to say that the Clinton selections created a new autobiography that in the past was obscured by the sheer mass of Kemble's memoirs. She is a terrific writer. Clinton has placed her emphasis on areas such as race, class, and women's issues, including the story of the marriage. Clinton's introduction locates the Journals within the context of Kemble's life, and as every editor must do, she makes a strong case for their relevance and historical significance. (Jean H. Baker, author of Mary Todd Lincoln)
[From] six books of memoirs, Clinton has extracted an anthology...of consistent interest. Kemble is forthright throughout, and never boring...she writes candidly about acting, social and economic contracts between England and America, slavery, politics, religion, the status of women, her reading and herself. (Stanley Weintraub Wall Street Journal)
A work of withering detail and explosive passion. (Jonathan Yardley Washington Post Book World)
Parting the curtains obscuring a nineteenth-century celebrity, historian Clinton offers...journal excerpts by a woman who was an actress, author, and abolitionst...Composed over her 80-plus years, Kemble's journals convey a variety of nineteenth-century experiences, from the discomforts of travel to the wonders of Rome...Clinton has admirably restored to interest a multifaceted figure pertinent to Civil War and women's studies. (Gilbert Taylor Booklist)
In Fanny Kemble's Journals, Clinton has edited down the journals and letters from a voluminous collection into a compendium of excerpts that gives the reader Kemble in her own voice. (Stephanie Harvin Post and Courier)
Fanny Kemble has finally found a historian worthy of her remarkable career. (Eric Foner author of Reconstruction and the Story of American Freedom)
A remarkable story...supplying color and atmosphere and Kemble's distinctive voice...Her journal, begun when she was 18 and kept regularly into her 70's, records her sharp observations of roads and accommodations and social behavior in the young American democracy [and her] blunt indictment of racial hypocrisy and sexual exploitation...The voice that 'reanimated the old drawing rooms, relighted the old lamps, retuned the old pianos,' is captured again. (David Walton New York Times Book Review)
Kemble's writing rings with passion, liveliness and wit. It is almost shocking in its clarity, precision and logic, its audacity and relevance. I marked dozens of passages in Fanny Kemble's Journals to read to friends. (Julie Brickman San Diego Union-Tribune)
Kemble's journal entries on slavery are both poignant and horrifying. She writes passionately against the use of slave women for sex by plantation owners, as well as the demands of backbreaking physical labor they performed. (Robin Dougherty Boston Globe)
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Already a celebrated actress when she came to America, Fanny was well-educated and accustomed to earning her own living when she married Pierce. It was only after traveling from Philadelphia to Butler Island, near Darien, Georgia, that she became aware of the full horror and degradation of slavery. She toured the plantation, helped to nurse the sick, did what she could to improve their conditions, and opened her door to all who dared to air their grievances, much to the dismay of her husband. Eventually, their disagreements on these points led to a divorce, and Fanny returned to Europe where she resumed her theatrical career.
This volume also contains Fanny's letters to friends and confidants that provide a valuable insight into the cultural climate in England as well as America for much of the 19th century.
These journals and letters are not only entertaining, but a must for any serious student of American history.