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Clara Morris Papers, 1874-1901
1 box (.5 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 106

Abstract:
Actress; Journalist. Includes original manuscripts for Life on the Stage: My Personal Experiences and Recollections (1901), and several short stories; memorabilia; photographs; and 2 letters.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection.

This collection has not been fully processed and therefore may be difficult to use.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to unpublished materials may be owned by the creator, or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use" must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note
Clara Morris, undated

Clara Morris, undated

Actress Clara Morris was born in Toronto, probably 17 Mar 1847, the eldest child of a bigamous marriage. When she was three her father, whose name was La Montagne, was exposed as a bigamist and her mother moved with Clara to Cleveland, where they adopted Clara's grandmother's name, Morisson. Young Clara received only scanty schooling. In circa 1860 she became a ballet girl in the resident company of the Cleveland Academy of Music, shortening her name to Morris at that time. After nine years of training with that company she played a leading lady at Wood's Theatre in Cincinnati in 1869. She then appeared in Halifax, Nova Scotia for a summer and with Joseph Jefferson in Louisville before going to New York City in 1870. She made her New York debut in September in "Man and Wife," directed by Augustin Daly at his Fifth Avenue Theatre. The role had come to her by chance, but she made such an impression in it that Daly starred her in a series of highly emotional roles over the next three years in such plays as "No Name," "Delmonico's," "L'Article 47," "Alixe," "Jezebel," and "Madeline Morel." She left Daly in 1873 and in November of that year starred under A.M. Palmer's management in "The Wicked World" at the Union Square Theatre.

Over the next few years Morris had great successes in "Camille" in 1874, "The New Leah" in 1875, "Miss Multon" (an American version of a French version of "East Lynne"), her most popular role, in 1876, "Jane Eyre" in 1877, and "The New Magdalen" in 1882. She also toured extensively, especially in the 1880s, and everywhere mesmerized audiences with her emotional power. Although neither a great beauty nor a great artist, nor trained in elocution or stagecraft, she had an instinctive genius for portraying the impassioned and often suffering heroines of French melodrama.

The passing of the vogue for that sort of theatre, together with her uncertain health, brought her career to a close in the 1890s. In retirement in Riverdale, New York, she contributed articles on acting to various magazines, wrote a daily newspaper column for ten years, and published numerous books, including A Silent Singer, 1899; Little Jim Crow and Other Stories for Children, 1900; Life on the Stage: My Personal Experiences and Recollections, 1901; Stage Confidences, 1902; A Pasteboard Crown, 1902; The Trouble Woman, 1904; The Life of a Star, 1906; Left in Charge, 1907; New East Lynne, 1908; A Strange Surprise, 1910; and Dressing-Room Receptions, 1911. In 1904 she returned to the stage in a revival of "The Two Orphans," and she later appeared in vaudeville. She died in New Canaan, Connecticut, on November 20, 1925.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

This small collection contains three volumes of original manuscripts for her memoir Life on the Stage: My Personal Experiences and Recollections (published 1901), with unpublished passages on John Wilkes Booth; plus manuscripts for several short stories, dated 1900. Also included are theatre programs dating from 1874 to 1888, photographs, two letters, and an obituary.

NOTE: The container list for this collection is available in the Sophia Smith Collection. Please contact us to request a copy.


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection.

This collection has not been fully processed and therefore may be difficult to use.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to unpublished materials may be owned by the creator, or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use" must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Clara Morris Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

History of the Collection


Additional Information
Contact Information
Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Email Reference Form: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/ssc/emailform.html
URL: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/ssc/

Language
English