Image of the Week: Mrs. Abington (1798)

This week’s image is pulled from the New York Public Library and is a portrait of the actress, Frances Abington. Her rise to notoriety and her prominence in the fashion scene thereafter make her story interesting and romaticized. Frances began as a poor flower girl and street singer. She then moved on to work under a French Milliner who introduced her to high fashion in the French world. From there, she made her theatre debut in 1755, but wasn’t a sensation until 1764 when she rose to fame as a principal in Drury Lane Theatre Company. There, she became the darling of the time; creating characters such as Lady Teazle in The School for Scandal. In later years, she became a fashion trendsetter, even having a hat named the “Abington Cap” in her honor. Frances is often noted with being a pioneer in the acting profession as well as an icon for popular fashion of the eighteenth century.

Nussbaum, Felicity. Rival Queens: Actresses, Performance, and the Eighteenth-century British Theater. Philadelphia: Unniversity of Pennsylvania, 2010. Google E-Books. Google. Web. 05 Mar. 2012. <>.

“Fanny Abington.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 01 Mar. 2012. <>.



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