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Pritchard, Hannah

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One of David Garrick’s most talented leading ladies, Hannah Vaughan was born on 28 October 1709 in Angel Court, about two blocks from Drury Lane Theatre, and was christened, according to the registers of St Martin-in-the-Fields, on 15 November. Most of her relatives were connected in one way or another with the theatre: her father Edward Vaughan was a stay maker, a brother was a fan maker, two others were actors and are noticed in the BDA. Her husband (as of 1730) William Pritchard (1707-1763) was an actor and theatre treasurer (also noticed in the BDA), and two of their children married into the profession. Yet there is little information about Hannah’s theatrical beginnings. Her first certain notice was at Drury Lane on 5 May 1733, when she may have acted the First Phillis in "The Livery Rake". She then was Loveit in "A Cure for Covetousness" at Bartholomew Fair on 23 August, a part in which her singing drew attention. In September one R. S. (probably Richard Savage) in the "Gentleman’s Magazine" found promise in her voice, diction, reason and sense, and he was right: beginning in the autumn of 1733 with Theophilus Cibber’s renegade troupe at the Haymarket Theatre she appeared as Nell in "The Devil to Pay", Ophelia in "Hamlet", and Belina in "The Mother-in-Law", among other parts large and small. Thomas Davies said of her Belina that Mrs Pritchard had a ‘genteel person, for she was then young and slender … [H]er expressive yet simple manner; her unembarassed deportment and proper action … charmed all the spectators …’ He even compared her favourably with Anne Oldfield, the elegant leading lady who had recently died. Mrs Pritchard and the rest of Cibber’s seceders returned to Drury Lane by mid-March 1734, and that house became her theatrical home base for many years. There and occasionally at the late summer fairs, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the Haymarket, Bristol and Richmond she acted such characters as Sylvia in "The Old Bachelor", Lady Fidget in "The Country Wife", Lady Wou’dbe in "Volpone", Lady Townly in "The Provok’d Husband", Dol Common in "The Alchemist", Mrs Sullen in "The Beaux’ Stratagem", Lucy in "The Beggar’s Opera", Mrs Foresight in "Love for Love", Lady Anne in "Richard III" and Lady Macduff in "Macbeth". In addition, she played in pantomimes and developed her skills in all sorts of comic and tragic characters. At Drury Lane in 1740-41, a crucial season for her, she added some significant new roles: Desdemona in "Othello", a much-acclaimed Rosalind in "As You Like It", Viola in "Twelfth Night" and Nerissa in "The Merchant of Venice" (in the production in which Charles Macklin introduced his serious Shylock). John Rich stole Hannah from Drury Lane to act at Covent Garden Theatre in 1741. There she came on in some important new roles, including Sylvia in "The Recruiting Officer", Lady Brute in "The Provok’d Wife", Margery in "The Country Wife" and Gertrude in "Hamlet" (in which she surpassed the celebrated Mary Porter). But Hannah had a falling out with Rich, broke her articles and returned to Drury Lane in September 1742. Joining that troupe at the same time was young David Garrick. Hannah first acted with him on 5 October 1742, playing Monimia to his Chamont in "The Orphan". They then appeared as Jane Shore and Hastings in Rowe’s tragedy and as Richard III and Queen Elizabeth. Their partnership, though sometimes disrupted by changes in companies and made volatile by artistic temperaments on both sides, continued, mostly at Drury Lane, until her retirement in 1768. Hannah’s career remained to the end a mixture of comic and tragic characters, among them Belvidera in "Venice Preserv’d", Calista in "The Fair Penitent", Beatrice in "Much Ado about Nothing", Clarinda (to Garrick’s Ranger) in "The Suspicious Husband", Emilia in "Othello", Lady Macbeth (G0253), Meropé in Hill’s tragedy, Cleopatra in "All for Love" and Millamant in "The Way of the World". She was a talented actress in whom the critics rarely found a faul
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