MARIA POPE  pp. 354-360

MARIA POPE

By E. Owens Blackburne

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Born, a.d. 1775. Died, a.d. 1803

URBIS INTACTA”—the city of Waterford—has given to the stage two of its most distinguished comedy actresses, Kitty Clive and Dorothy Jordan. But another actress from the maiden city claims a place upon the roll of histrionic fame—and the robes of Melpomene, as yet unworn by an Irishwoman, never clothed a more fitting subject than Maria Campion. She is one of the very few actresses who have risen to eminence in their profession, yet concerning whose private life little or nothing is known. In 1798 she married Mr. Pope, a widower, whose first wife, Miss Younge, had also been celebrated as an actress.

Maria Campion was born in Waterford, in 1775, where her father, who was a respectable merchant, died when she was yet but a child, leaving a wife and two daughters totally unprovided for. Some relatives, seeing the destitute condition of the widow and orphans, came forward and offered to take charge of Maria, the eldest girl. She was, even then, studious and thoughtful, and—considering the scarcity of books at the time—very well read for her age. She was particularly fond of dramatic literature, and an old volume of Shakspeare was her constant companion and delight.

At this time the Waterford Theatre held no inconsiderable rank amongst provincial playhouses. Companies from Smock Alley not infrequently went there for a season. Daly, one of the best of provincial managers, often took his company to Waterford; and upon one occasion, when they played “The Orphan” there, Maria Campion witnessed the performance which sealed her fate.

Illustrious Irishwomen Volume 2

E. Owens Blackburne

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Book DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511697814