Siddons, Sarah

BORN 5 Jul 1755, Breconn, Brecknockshire, Wales: in an Inn - DIED 8 Jun 1831, London
BIRTH NAME Kemble, Sarah
CAUSE OF DEATH erysipelas (bacterial skin infection)
GRAVE LOCATION London: St. Mary on Paddington Green Churchyard, Paddington Green, Paddington (St. Mary's Gardens)

Sarah Siddons was the greatest tragical actress of her time and most famous for playing Lady MacBeth. She was the daughter of actor-manager Roger Kemble and Sarah Ward. Against the wishes of her father she married the actor William Siddons in Nov 1773. In 1774 she attracted attention as Belvidera in "Venice Preserved" by Thomas Otway. Her first appearances at Drury Lane were unsuccessful and in 1777 she went to tour the provinces. In 1782 she returned to Drury Lane and this time she was an instant success in Garrick's version of "Isabella, or, The Fatal Marriage" by Thomas Souterne.

She played Lady MacBeth, Desdemona, Ophelia and other parts with equal success. She was the star of Drury Lane for twenty years and was able to mix in higher society, at that time unusual for actors. She was generous and intelligent, but when her acquaintance Mary Wollstonecraft, who already had a child, married William Godwin in 1797, she closed her door for her.

After she left Drury Lane in 1802 she performed at Covent Garden where she played Lady MacBeth in her farewell performance on 9 Jun 1812. Her last appearance was on 9 Jun 1819 as Lady Randolph in "Douglas" by John Home.

She had seven children with her husband, but three of them died young. In 1804 they separated. Her portrait was painted by the leading portrait painters Gainsborough (1785) and Reynolds (1784). Thomas Lawrence painted her at least fourteen times between 1782 and 1804 and fell in love with two of her daughters. The actors John Philip Kemble and Charles Kemble her were younger brothers and the the actress Fanny Kemble was her niece.

• Son: Siddons, Henry
• Daughter: Siddons, Cecilia

Related persons
• is brother/sister of Kemble, Charles
• is uncle/aunt of Kemble, Fanny
• has a connection with Wollstonecraft, Mary

29/6/1812Farewell performance of Sarah Siddons at Covent Garden. She retired from the stage but would reappear on a few special occasions. 
14/6/1897Statue for Sarah Siddons unveiled at Paddington Green in London. After her death in 1831 she had been interred in the nearby St Mary's Cemetery. 


Statue of Sarah Siddons near St. Mary on Paddington Green, London.
Picture by Androom (26 Jun 2009)


The grave of Sarah Siddons at the churchyard of St. Mary on Paddington Green, London.
Picture by Androom (26 Jun 2009)


• Crawford, Anne and others, The Europa Biographical Dictionary of British Women, Europa Publications Ltd, London, 1983
• Vincent, Benjamin, Haydn's Dictionary of Dates, and Universal Information, Ward, Lock & Co, London, 1906
Sarah Siddons - Wikipedia

Siemens, Carl Georg

Published: 05 Jul 2009
Last update: 12 Jul 2024