Historical Reads: Sarah Bernhardt

Author Elizabeth Mahon has written a very interesting post about the actress Sarah Bernhardt. To quote:

A baby was inconvenient for Sarah’s mother, so she was shuttled off to relatives, and later sent to a convent school where she thrived, at one point she considered taking vows after converting to Catholicism. Fortunately fate had other ideas. From childhood, Sarah was intense and dramatic, throwing temper tantrums or falling ill when she was unhappy or thwarted. When a family panel was convened to decide what to do with Sarah whens he was 15, the Duc de Morny suggested that she enroll at the Conservatoire to become an actress, an idea that hadn’t occured to her before. Sarah later claimed that she had never even seen a play before!

At the conservatoire, she threw herself into her studies, although she later rejected most of what she was taught there, considering the training to be old-fashioned. They had too many rules and Sarah hated rules. One of the biggest was that no actor should turn his back on the audience. Well Sarah made that one of the features of her acting during her long career. Thanks once again to the Duc de Morny, Sarah was automatically accepted into the Comedie Francaise upon graduation. However, she was not a success. Despite making her debut in 3 roles during her first year, she was hardly noticed by the critics or the audience. She also suffered from intense stage fright that would plague her during her entire career. After she slapped a senior actress for insulting her younger sister Regine backstage, Sarah was fired.

To read the entire post, click here.

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