Friday, May 23, 2008
Tart of the Week: Elizabeth Farren
Hot! Elizabeth Farren was an Irish actress of humble origins. She excelled at her art and was even dubbed The Queen of Comedy by Horace Walpole, the social authority of the time. Given that Elizabeth was the starlet of Drury Lane Theater, the title was probably not flattery. She excelled at playing aristocratic ladies, even portraying Lady Teazle in Sheridan's School of Scandal, a part based upon The Duchess of Devonshire.
It was likely these parts that got Edward Smith-Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby's attention. The earl fell in love with Elizabeth, despite the fact that his wife, Elizabeth Hamilton, was still very much alive. The secret affair was once again very public in satirical prints and therefore a widely followed affair. When Lady Derby died, the earl wasted no time making Elizabeth his wife (and the new Lady Derby). They were married two months after his first wife's death. The couple continued to be ridiculed in satires with Elizabeth portrayed as as the tall and skinny gold-digger and the earl as short and squatty. They amused and inspired satirical artists throughout the rest of their marriage. A typical celebrity union.