chapter  7
18 Pages

Hester Thrale Piozzi, the Bas Bleu, and the Theatre

WithFelicity A. Nussbaum

This chapter focuses on Thrale Piozzi's ambivalence toward public exposure and dramatic writing, and her close relationship to two very different actors, Sarah Siddons and William Augustus Conway. The potential for wealth and adulation, and her envy of Siddons's celebrity, may have sparked her longing to write for theatre, but her admiration for improvisational acting witnessed during her Italian sojourn may have had an effect. Yet another reason for Thrale Piozzi's turning her hopes to the theatre may have been more private one, for she admitted to envying her husband's musical performances. Thrale Piozzi's close friend and fellow Welshwoman, Siddons, herself no stranger to public controversy, understood how much the disparagement by the Bluestockings had affected her friend, and great actress sympathized with pain caused by the public monitoring of one's persona. To other Bluestockings, then, Johnson's Floretta represented an enterprising woman trapped within the human condition, but she possessed a strong and defensible impulse to express her opinions.