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Stirling, Fanny (Mary Ann)

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This actress whose career spanned much of the middle part of the nineteenth century was born Mary Anne (but called Fanny) Kehl in Queen Street, Mayfair, in July 1815. Her father was Capt Kehl of the Horse Guards and military secretary with the War Office. Using the name Fanny Clifton, she made appearances in the early 1830s at the Coburg, Surrey, East London and Pavilion theatres. At the Pavilion she met the country actor Edward Stirling (or Lambert), a player of ‘walking gentlemen,’ whom she married and accompanied to theatres in Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham. As Mrs Stirling she returned to London to appear in the West End at the Adelphi. Subsequently she was seen in many soubrette and low comedy roles at various London theatres, including the St James’s, Strand, Haymarket and Drury Lane. Among her more important later roles were Cordelia, Katharine in "The Taming of the Shrew", Lady Teazle, Lady Bountiful in "The Beaux’ Stratagem", Mrs Hardcastle in "She Stoops to Conquer" and the Nurse in "Romeo and Juliet" (with Ellen Terry as Juliet, G0804). Perhaps her greatest success was as Peg Woffington in "Masks and Faces" (1852), the role in which she is pictured by Phillips (G0778). Another excellent portrayal was as Maritana in "Don Cesar de Bazan" (1841). Mrs Stirling retired from the stage in 1885. Her husband, from whom she had separated, died in August 1894. He had written some 200 pieces, mainly burlesques, farces and melodramas that were seen at various London theatres. Later in 1894 she married Sir Charles Hutton Gregory, consulting engineer to the crown agents for the colonies, with whom she had been living for some time. Lady Gregory died on 31 December 1895, leaving an estate of £11,556 to her second husband. By all accounts she was an excellent actress, somewhat extravagant in style, especially in comedy. (DNB)
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