Kemble, Adelaide

BORN 13 Feb 1815, London - DIED 4 Aug 1879, Titchfield, Hampshire: Warsash House
GRAVE LOCATION Ightham, Kent: St. Peter's Churchyard

Younger daughter of Charles Kemble and sister of Fanny Kemble. Sarah Siddons was her aunt. She studied singing with John Braham and in Italy with Giuditta Pasta at her villa on Lake Como. Her professional career started in 1835 and debuted in opera at the Fenice Theatre in Venice as Norma in Vincenzo Bellini's opera of the same name. She performed in Germany, Italy, Paris and Prague. She travelled through Europe for a while in the company of Franz Liszt. On 2 Nov 1841 she played the role of Norma at the Covent Garden Theatre. This was her first performance in an opera in London.

After a short but successful career she stopped singing professionally with a brief speech after a concert on 23 Dec 1842. This was because of her marriage to the rich Edward Sartoris in 1843, although the love of her live was Francis Thun (1809-1870). Nonetheless her marriage was good and she and Edward had three children.

During the rest of her life Adelaide she continued her singing, but only in private. She lived with her husband in England, France and Italy. Just like her sister Fanny she turned to writing several times. Chopin debuted in London in 1849 at their home in Belgravia, London.

In Rome the young painter Frederic Leighton became a close friend and he was greatly influenced by her personality. They remained close friends for life. Her son Algernon Sartoris married Nellie Grant, a daughter of the American president Grant, in 1874. On that occasion she visited the White House.

She died in 1879 and according to her own wishes she was buried in Ightham, where her friend Henry Greville rested since his death in 1872. Another source states that her son Greville was buried here and that this was the reason that she wanted to be buried in Ightham.

Work: "A Week in a French Country House" (1867); "Medusa and Other Tales" (1868); "Past Hours" (1880).

• Father: Kemble, Charles
• Sister: Kemble, Fanny
• Brother: Kemble, John Mitchell

Related persons
• has a connection with Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck, William John, 5th Duke of Portland
• has a connection with Liszt, Franz
• knew Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Felix
• was a friend of Thackeray Ritchie, Anne
• was visited by Trelawny, Edward John
• knew Viardot-Garcia, Pauline

0/0/1837Adelaide Kemble and Pauline Garcia sing together. Adelaide and Charles Kemble had left Leipzig and travelled to Brussels to visit the Garcias. Adelaide and young Pauline sang together and their voices combined very well. [Kemble, Charles][Viardot-Garcia, Pauline]
0/0/1837Johann Hummel recognises Charles Kemble on the streets of Weimar. Charles Kemble and his daughter Adelaide were on their way to Karlsbad. During their stay in Weimar, Hummel recognised Charles and invited them to his house. There he played the piano and Adelaide sang. [Hummel, Johann Nepomuk][Kemble, Charles]
16/10/1837Charles and Adelaide Kemble leave Dresden. They headed for the castle of the Thun family. [Kemble, Charles]
6/11/1837Charles and Adelaide Kemble arrive in Leipzig. They knew Felix Mendelssohn and Charles Kemble hoped that he would support Adelaide's singing career. Soon after their arrival they were spotted by the singer Clara Novello and her parents, who feared that Adelaide might be a rival to Clara. [Kemble, Charles][Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Felix]
21/12/1838Charles and Adelaide Kemble leave Venice for Trieste. Adelaide had performed succesfully in Venice. In Trieste they would meet Adelaide's brother John. [Kemble, Charles][Kemble, John Mitchell]
1/4/1839Adelaide Kemble makes her opera debut at La Scala in "Lucia di Lammermoor". She didn't feel welcome and was very nervous. The singers Napoleone Moriani and Giogio Ronconi were hostile to her. The concert didn't go well, but later performances went better. 
2/11/1841Adelaide Kemble performs the part of Norma at Covent Garden 


The grave of Adelaide Kemble St. Peter's Churchyard, Ightham, Kent.
Picture by Androom (15 Aug 2016)


The grave of Adelaide Kemble St. Peter's Churchyard, Ightham, Kent.
Picture by Androom (15 Aug 2016)


• Blainey, Ann, Fanny and Adelaide, Ivan R. Dee, Chicago, 2001
• 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

Kemble, Charles

Published: 01 Jan 2006
Last update: 20 Apr 2022