<< Back to 'directory' archive

Davenport, Fanny


We extract the following particulars concerning Miss Davenport from “A Portrait Gallery” of the leading actors and actresses of America, published by Richard R. Fox, of New York :–

[A]mong the actresses in the English company which has supported Mrs [Anna Cora] Mowatt in connection with [E. L. Davenport] was Miss Fanny Vining, whom the American actor married soon after he resolved to remain abroad. The first result of the union was a girl, born in 1850, in London, and christened Fanny, after her mother. The earliest lessons of Fanny Davenport were of the stage and its literature. Her father returned to America in 1854, and achieved a popularity and fame few American actors have ever excelled. His wife’s artistic reputation was scarcely inferior to his own. The girl, brought up in such an atmosphere of histrionism, could not but have imbibed its influence, and it was a matter of course that she should make the stage her profession. She made her debut at the Howard Athenæum in Boston, then managed by Jacob Barrow, as the child in Metamora, and thenceforth figured from time to time in children’s roles, at that or other theatres where her parents were engaged. She enjoyed a meager experience as a child at Burton’s Chamber-street Theatre during the period when E. L. Davenport and Harry Watkins were no more successful in managing it jointly than others had been before them. They christened it ‘The American Theatre,’ and opening it on February 23d, 1857, baptized it with ‘The Star-spangled banner,’ in the chanting of which Mr and Mrs Davenport, their eldest daughter, and the rest of the company took part. Thus, as a feeble vocalist, ‘Miss Fanny,’ as she was termed in the bills, made her metropolitan debut. Before the brief season closed, she played a small speaking part or two, but her real metropolitan debut was not made until February, 14th, 1862, when she appeared as the King of Spain in Faint Heart Never Won Fair Lady, at Niblo’s Garden, New York. Her subsequent appearances at various playhouses were received with favour, and her professional position improved steadily until she secured an engagement under Augustin Daly at the old Fifth Avenue, New York. It was in the fall of 1860 she graduated from soubrette at the Arch-street Theatre, Philadelphia, to the crowning height of Lady Gay Spanker at the Fifth Avenue Theatre six weeks after that house had come under the aegis of Augustin Daly, with her courtly father as Sir Harcourt.

The Era 11/11/1882. Print.

Davenport, The Era, 11/11/1882