Documents associated with: Lyceum Theatre
Record 2 of 6
Dear Miss Bateman -
It is very kind of you to think of me on this occasion and I am very happy to have returned to town in time to accept your flattering invitation for Saturday - My brother and I will both come -
With many thanks and with best wishes for yourself and the success of our country woman, believe me
Very Sincerely Yours
J A McN Whistler.
2. Kate Bateman
Kate Josephine Bateman (1842 or 1843-1917), later Mrs Crowe, a popular actress [more]. Kate, Ellen and Isabel were the daughters of Hezekiah Linthicum Bateman (1812-1875), theatre manager and impresario [more]. They all went on the London stage, and both Kate and Isabel knew JW, who drew a portrait of Isabel (M.467). Kate was the best known, and, being the eldest, was usually referred to as 'Miss Bateman'. She first appeared at the St James's Theatre in 1851 as one of the princes in the Tower, and was so bad that the murder was greeted with relief. She became very popular after her real debut in the title-role of Leah, which played 210 nights in 1863. She retired briefly on her marriage in 1865 but returned to the stage in 1868, and joined Irving's company.
4. country woman
Miss Bateman was indeed JW's country-woman, having been born in Baltimore, and this might be a general reference to her career as an actress. However, it may be a specific reference to her role as Julia, a 'country woman', in a revival of Sheridan Knowles' popular play The Hunchback (first performed in 1838), which opened at the Adelphi Theatre on 30 January 1865. H. Morley wrote 'her American intonation adds to the natural monotony of her delivery [...] When she is loud or swift, or anything but pathetic, she is never thoroughly pathetic [...] Miss Bateman's notion is always to settle herself into some quiet, well-looking attitude, and save herself all awkwardness by keeping it as long as possible.' (Journal, 18 March 1865, in H. Morley, The Journal of a London Playgoer From 1851 to 1866, London, 1891, pp. 299-300). The play had a fairly short run, and had closed by 8 May when she opened in another play, but marriage cut short this stage of her career. Her farewell benefit was held on 22 December 1865 at Her Majesty's Theatre, when she chose to play Juliet in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The Daily News commented, 'It is a singular fact connected with Miss Bateman's former representation of this character in America that her Romeo was Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Lincoln.' (Daily News, 23 December 1865). The assassination, in April 1865, had given unexpected notoriety to Tom Taylor's play, Our American Cousin, and Bateman's association with the assassin added some frisson to her career. In 1868 she had returned to the stage and in 1872 she had perhaps her greatest success, in the title role of W. G. Wills' Medea in Corinth at the Lyceum (Charles E. Pascoe, ed., The Dramatic List, London, 1880, pp. 37-41). Donald Mullin, ed., Victorian Actors and Actresses in Review, Westport and London, 1983, p. 57, see also pp. 54-56). By 1899, when she appeared as Elinore in Shakespeare's King John at Her Majesty's, her earlier acting problems and her American intonation had apparently disappeared, and she was commended as ''an exponent of that grand old school of acting which understands that Shakespeare was the very antithesis to the modern key, and that voice and gesture must rise to poetic dignity.' (Grein, p. 70, quoted in Mullin, op. cit., p. 57).