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Pope, Elizabeth

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Elizabeth Younge was born about 1740 in Southwark, and when near the age of 28 she came to the attention of David Garrick, who trained her in acting and brought her out as Imogen in "Cymbeline" at Drury Lane on 22 October 1768, advertised as ‘A Young Gentlewoman’ making her stage debut. The straightforward prompter William Hopkins took note of her: ‘Mrs Younge – an elegant figure in both dresses, a very good voice, but wants management, – a great deal of acting about her, and would make a great figure if she had a better face. Upon the whole she played the part amazingly well, and had deserved applause.’ Garrick liked her so much he raised her salary from £2 to £3 weekly on the basis of her first few appearances. Then she tried Jane Shore (‘so, so – spoke much too low,’ wrote Hopkins), Ovisa in "Zingis" (‘played very bad, and much disliked’) and, for her benefit, Perdita in "Florizel and Perdita" (no comment). Her career seemed, from these remarks, to be sinking, but she signed on at Richmond for the summer of 1769 and came back to the Garrick fold in 1769-70 to play such important roles as Juliet, Maria in "The London Merchant", Lady Anne in "Richard III", Angelica in "Love for Love" and Calista in "The Fair Penitent". Garrick had high hopes for her but could come to no agreement on a contract, so Elizabeth spent the summer in Bristol and most of the 1770-71 season acting in Dublin. On 26 September 1771 she returned to Drury Lane to play Imogen, followed by more leading chacacters, among them Fidelia in "The Plain Dealer", Indiana in "The Concious Lovers", Lady Brute in "The Provok’d Wife", Viola in "Twelfth Night" and Monimia in "The Orphan". Through 1778-79 she added such characters as Queen Elizabeth in "The Earl of Essex" (G0683), Zara in "The Mourning Bride", Rosalind in "As You Like It", Desdemona in "Othello", Cordelia in "King Lear", Lydia Languish in "The Rivals", and Belvidera in "Venice Preserv’d" – a splendid line of heroines, often of the tender variety. Offstage she could be tough as nails negotiating with Garrick. By the late 1770s she was earning £12 weekly. When she left Drury Lane to act at Covent Garden in 1779-80 her departure was apparently because of money: she wanted £20 weekly plus a benefit free of house charges and an extra stipend for clothes, which Sheridan at Drury Lane would not give her. Meanwhile, during the summer months, she augmented her income by touring some country towns – Bristol, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester and Cork. Elizabeth Younge began her engagement at Covent Garden on 10 November 1779 as Marcelia in "The Duke of Milan" and then acted some of her old Drury Lane characters, as well as such important new roles as Estifania in "Rule a Wife and Have a Wife", Statira in "Alexander the Great" and Andromache in "The Distrest Mother", as well as youthful characters like Juliet that she was now too old to play credibly. In the summer of 1784 when she was acting in Ireland (at about 44) she also tried to recapture her youth by marrying the young artist-actor, Alexander Pope, then 24. She had a much more successful career than he; in 1786, for example, she was earning £20 per week and he £9. In the years that followed their careers were usually pursued together, but they seldom acted as a team. They evidently had a comfortable marriage, Alexander being content with a famous wife but one whose influence was helpful to him. Elizabeth excelled in both comedy and tragedy, though she never matched Elizabeth Farren in the one or Sarah Siddons in the other. But for characters requiring softness she was first rate, and she had a remarkably wide range of characters she could play well, making her the kind of high level ‘useful’ player who was both reliable and invaluable. Mrs Pope acted at Covent Garden for the rest of her life, now playing more mature roles: ladies of fashion or title. But her health was poor in the mid-1790s, and she died on 15 March 1797. She had worked out an arrangement
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