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 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 still sang, 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 Liszt, Franz
• was a friend of Thackeray Ritchie, Anne
• knew Viardot-Garcia, Pauline


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

Kemble, Charles

Published: 1 Jan 2006
Last update: 6 Oct 2020