Home  /  Name

Hopkins, Elizabeth

Birth date


Death date



Elizabeth Barton, the daughter of a publican in York, was born in 1731. She had done some acting in York by the time she married, at the age of 22, the actor and prompter William Hopkins at York Minster on 22 April 1753. She spent some eight years in the provinces, engaged at Edinburgh and in Ireland, where audiences saw her as Lady Brute in “The Provok’d Wife”, Olivia in “Twelfth Night”, Miranda in “The Tempest”, Lavinia in “The Fair Penitent” and Hermione in “The Distrest Mother”. When her husband became prompter at Drury Lane, she accompanied him to that theatre, making her first appearance on 14 November 1761 as Almeria in “The Mourning Bride”. Mrs Hopkins remained busily employed at Drury Lane for 34 years, playing major roles in comedies and tragedies. Even in her later years, when she had grown to some 19 stone, she was accounted a useful actress and towards the end of her career was ‘perfectly suited to old maids and crabbed aunts.’ In her prime, however, she often appeared in leading roles in the repertory, such as Jane Shore, Ophelia, Cleopatra in “All for Love”, Lavinia in “The Fair Penitent”, Roxanna in “The Rival Queens”, Mrs Heidelberg in “The Clandestine Marriage” and Gertrude in Hamlet (G0769). She retired in 1796, claimed on the Drury Lane Theatrical Fund that year, and died at Bath on 8 October 1801 in her seventieth year. Two daughters were actresses and married well. Elizabeth (b. 1756) married the oboist Michael Sharp and became the mother of the painter Michael William Sharp. Priscilla (1758-1854) was first married to the actor William Brereton and after his death in 1787 to John Philip Kemble. A watercolour drawing by De Faesch of Mrs Hopkins as Gertrude in “Hamlet” is in the Folger Shakespeare Library. (BDA)
Powered by CollectionsIndex+ Collections Online