Frances ‘Fanny’ Maria Kelly was an actress and singer, The present work compares favourably with a sketch of Frances taken ten years later than this miniature, by Thomas Unwins, although the sitters look very much the same age. It also compares well to a print of the actress, dated to 1818. It is, however, difficult to ascertain the facial features of Frances from the numerous prints of her in character.

Frances Maria Kelly was born to Mark Kelly and Mary Jackson Kelly (nee Singleton) in 1790. Her father was a frustrated actor who could not support his family and finally abandoned them. Frances took to the stage at a young age, acting in small parts at the age of seven while being taught and guided by her uncle, Michael Kelly. After more training for her acting and her voice she became better known and respected and, even as a child, began contributing to her family's finances.

Frances...

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Frances ‘Fanny’ Maria Kelly was an actress and singer, The present work compares favourably with a sketch of Frances taken ten years later than this miniature, by Thomas Unwins, although the sitters look very much the same age. It also compares well to a print of the actress, dated to 1818. It is, however, difficult to ascertain the facial features of Frances from the numerous prints of her in character.

Frances Maria Kelly was born to Mark Kelly and Mary Jackson Kelly (nee Singleton) in 1790. Her father was a frustrated actor who could not support his family and finally abandoned them. Frances took to the stage at a young age, acting in small parts at the age of seven while being taught and guided by her uncle, Michael Kelly. After more training for her acting and her voice she became better known and respected and, even as a child, began contributing to her family's finances.

Frances was the Barbara of the essay 'Barbara S …' by Charles Lamb (published in the London Magazine, 1 April 1825), in which he introduced an incident of this period showing her honesty in financial matters. She maintained a close friendship with Charles Lamb who proposed marriage to her in 1819. She refused him and never married, but in 1829 she had a daughter, although it is still unclear whether this was her natural or adopted child. Upon retirement, Frances opened ‘The Royal Dramatic School and Theatre’, with the intention of training young women. Just before her death, and having lived in relative poverty, She received a monetary prize associated with the Literary Fund, conferred on her by Queen Victoria. During her esteemed career she developed close acquaintances with Charles Dickens, the Duke of Devonshire, and the Earl of Essex.

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500 Years of British Art