Friday, February 5, 2010
Tart of the Week: Anna Maria Crouch
For many years there was a thin line between actress and whore, which was entirely unfair considering there were some fabulous actresses out there who worked hard on stage for their living. But then again, this was the eighteenth century, actresses tended to come from the lower classes where it was dog-eat-dog, and stereotypes don't just appear out of thin air. While the fabulous Mrs. Crouch never took to the streets (as far as we know) she was no stranger to scandal, or rich men's bedrooms.
Born Anna Maria Phillips, in 1763, Anna Maria was destined to be a famous actress, starting her stage career while still a child. She broke into the London scene at the tender age of sixteen, performing at Drury Lane, which was then under the management of Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Thomas Linley (Eliza's father). Not only was Anna Maria not bad on stage, she had a lovely singing voice. Her singing talent naturally landed her many singing rolls, most notably Polly Peachum in The Beggar's Opera.
Not long after Anna Maria began at Drury Lane, she was already flouncing off with rakes. In 1783 it was reported that she eloped with a certain Irish peer, but we cannot confirm who. The fling must not have lasted long for the following year she married a naval lieutenant by the name of Crouch. Right after the marriage, she returned to the stage. Now that Anna Maria was married, she could go by Mrs. Crouch which many actresses would title themselves, whether married or not, so they would look like chaste married women instead of floozies. It was once Anna Maria returned to acting in London that she met her great love.
Michael Kelly was a Dublin-born musician and singer who had been giving performances all over Europe and had also dabbled in acting. He arrived in London from Vienna with Nancy Storace, looking to making it big in England's capital city. A mere three years after her marriage, Anna Maria began an affair with Kelly. The two were not only sleeping together but also acting together, which as we all know, made great whisperings around London. To further delve into infidelity, Mrs. Crouch caught the eye of the Prince of Wales (he always did have a thing for actresses) and she had a brief affair with him. Let us examine how very tartly this was: Anna Maria was married and having an affair, and possibly hadn't cut things off with Kelly yet. The Prince, was also married at this time albeit, illegally to Maria Fitzherbert. Although the affair was brief, Anna Maria still managed to make off with a £10,000 bond from the silly prince, which probably ticked Perdita Robinson off royally because of all trouble she went through to get some of the prince's money!
After jumbling all these men around in 1791, Anna Maria reorganized herself. She separated from her husband and moved in with Kelly. The two divided their time between their home in London and their other home in Brighton. Sadly, Anna Maria's life was cut short in 1805 when she suddenly died. The 42 year old's cause of death is unknown and it sounds as if it wasn't a pretty situation, for rumors suggest she died from either drinking or a tragic carriage accident. Kelly was heartbroken and the monument he errected in her memory still stands today.