By Barbara Wallace Grossman
As soon as referred to as "America's maximum actress," popular 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 research 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 resulted in her retirement from the level, Barbara Wallace Grossman explores Morris's dramatic reinvention as an writer. in the course of a moment strong occupation, she released enormous quantities 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 saved from 1868 till 1924, in addition to at the manuscript fragments and notes of journalist George T. MacAdam, who died in 1929 prior to finishing the actress's biography. Grossman presents a dramatic account of Morris's existence and paintings from her stricken early years, via an unsatisfied marriage, morphine habit, and invalidism, to the demanding situations of traveling, the decline of her creative attractiveness, and the calls for of the writing profession she pursued so tenaciously. A Spectacle of anguish finds how Morris, even after experiencing blindness and the lack of her domestic, livelihood, and kin, didn't succumb to melancholy and located convenience within the small pleasures of her circumscribed lifestyles. A Spectacle of affliction recovers a big determine in American theatre and guarantees that Morris could be remembered no longer easily as an actress yet as a revered author and cherished public determine, trendy for her braveness in facing adversity. The booklet, that's stronger by way of twenty-four illustrations, is the one released biography of Clara Morris. it really 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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Additional resources for A Spectacle of Suffering: Clara Morris on the American Stage
To complete the dramatic effect, she distorted the shape of her eye by attaching “strong sticking-plaster” to the lid. Morris had a “rare scar” indeed but much to Daly’s dismay had no coherent concept for the character. Even visits to the local “madhouse at Blackwell’s Island” had not inspired her. She was so expressionless in rehearsal he feared she would ruin the play. The crucial mad scene was particularly lifeless. “I simply stood still and spoke the broken, disjointed words,” she recalled, as her frantic manager ordered her to act.
They moved in with William and Sarah Proctor, who told their daughter-in-law “there was . . ” The solution was to keep their oldest granddaughter, Elizabeth, to run their household and to send their oldest grandson, William, to learn a trade. Sarah Proctor Morrison went to work elsewhere as a housekeeper, taking her two youngest children, John and Catherine, with her. Four-year-old Sarah Jane, however, was left to fend for herself. ”12 21 The Making of an Emotional Actress For several years, she worked as a servant in households where she was poorly fed and routinely tormented.
Although it is tempting to speculate about the complicated nature of their relationship, there is nothing in Morris’s fifty-four-volume diary to support the charge of child abuse. Yet, in Morris’s memoir, her mother emerges as a disciplinarian with an explosive temper. She boxes young Clara’s ears—“a custom now considered criminal in these better days,” the adult Morris notes with some satisfaction—for spelling the word mouse incorrectly and for chewing gum noisily. In her fiction, too, several characters bear Morrison’s indelible emotional stamp.