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A Woman’s Place
Fanny Kemble should have known that a beautiful, brilliant, vivacious British actress never, never marries the Butler—especially an American slaveholding Butler with a narrow vision of a wife’s role
April 1968 | Volume 19, Issue 3
Fanny had struck her blow at what looked to her like the blackest hour and had earned her right to the dawn that came after it. That glow was to warm the rest of her long life.
For there were no more agonizing decisions. She learned now to co-exist lovingly with those whose views and values were different from hers. Little by little she was reconciled with Fan, and the years of her grandmotherhood were as golden as those of her motherhood had been grim.
She was always a welcome guest in the Wisters’ Philadelphia home, and she was devoted to her grandson, also named Owen, in whom she correctly saw a writer of promise. But as she grew old, Fanny was happiest in England. And it was with Fan that she found the contentment she wanted for her last years. For Fan was married to James Leigh, an English clergyman who had “come into the living” at Stratford on Avon. In Shakespeare’s country Fanny found peace, close by her one unblemished love, “that greatest and best English mind and heart” in whose presence she had spent the best hours of her long life. On January 15, 1893, at the age of eighty-three, she died.