Home >> New International Encyclopedia, Volume 20 >> Wittekind to Yttrium >> Woffington


dublin, time, london and charm

WOF'FINGTON, J-teuAnET (P1:0) (e.1714 (10). A celebrated Irish actress, born of poor parents in Dublin, where it was long remembered how as a child she sold salad on College Green, and charmed purchasers by her bright and vi vacions ways. When about ten years old, she appeared in a 'Lilliputian' production of Thr;. Beetyar'ei Opera, and Ilo.reafter for several years played various parts at one of the newer Dublin theatres. often dancing between the acts. In 1737 she look of ()phelia at the Smock Alley Theatre. and this was the beginning of her great -recess, tler London (16but she made in 1740 at Covent Garden, as Silvia in 77u0 Recruit ing Officer. She was an immediate favorite, and when a few weeks later she repeated her Sir Harry Wildair (in The Constant Couple). which had aliemly excited the enthusiasm of Dublin, she showed bcr versatile powers in .a port with which no man of her time succeeded so well. During her career at Drury Lane and Covent Garden, she played most of the heroines who then ruled the stage, in both comedy and tragedy; in the former, perhaps, with the greater charm and distinction. Some of her best characters were the fine ladies, like Lady Betty Modish and Lady Townley. Rides, too, in which the heroine ap

pears in masculine disguise afforded some of her special triumphs. Her last appearance was as Rosalind in As You Like 1t. in 1757. Tate Wilkinson describes how, though ill, she persisted in going on with the play, till in the epilogue she suddenly broke down with a cry of horror and was led from the stage. Three years later. in Westminster, she died. She was one of the most beautiful of actresses, and what a hostile critic called her 'impudence' was to most people an additional charm. tier voice alone was said to be less agreeable. Countless stories are told both of her frailty and of her goodness of heart. Garrick. with whom she lived for a time, was only one of her lovers; hut she ended her days in respectable retirement, leaving much of her prop erty in charity. Much of her charming and gen erous personality is revealed in Charles Reade's novel of Peg Wollingtem and the play Masks and Faces. Consult: Daly. Wolfington. a Tribute to the .1ctress and the Woman (Philadelphia, 1SSS) ; :Molloy, The Life and Adventures of Peg Woffington, with Pictures of the Period in which, She Limed (London, 1884).