Sue Young Histories

Genevieve Ward 1837 - 1922

February 04, 2010

**{::}**{::}Genevieve Ward 1837 – 1922Dame Genevieve Ward DBE 1837 - 1922, born Lucy Genevieve Teresa Ward, was an American born soprano and actress. She was created a Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE) in 1921.

Genevieve Ward was a patient of James John Garth Wilkinson (who signed himself ‘… your old doctor… ’), and a friend of Cecilia Helena Payne Gaposchkin, the the great grand daughter of James John Garth Wilkinson, who often used to visit her with her mother Emma Marsh Wilkinson, and she knew Henry James Junior and his family, who were also great friends of James John Garth Wilkinson, Genevieve Ward was also a friend of Edward VII, Charles John Keen, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ignaz Moscheles, Charles Reade, Adelaide Ristori, Elizabeth Robins,, Fanny Stirling, Oscar Wilde, and of course a great many other famous people from her time.

Genevieve Ward and Colonel Samuel Ward (?-?)**, **are listed in both of James John Garth Wilkinson’s address books at 10 Cavendish Road NW (address crossed out in the ‘Where is it?’ address book), and at 22 Avenue Road, Regents Park NW, and at 2 Holies Omberslay Road, Droitwich, Worcestershire (entry dated 3.8.1893) (this last address is listed in a 2nd entry in the ‘Where is it?’ address book and then crossed out (entry dated 3.8.1893)),  (Swedenborg Archive Address Book of James John Garth Wilkinson dated 1895. _See also Swedenborg Archive _Address Book of James John Garth Wilkinson ‘Where is it’ dated 1.10.1892.).


From Zadel Barnes Gustafson_, Genevieve Ward: a biographical sketch from original material derived from her family and friends, *(J.R. Osgood and Company, 1882). Page 203. On 10th March 1881, Garth Wilkinson wrote to Genevieve Ward: *‘… Dear Mrs. Ward…  I have to thank you much for letting me see the criticism on “Forget Me Not,” in “The New York Tribune.” It is indeed a remarkable article; and if “Forget Me Not” were published it might preface it as Schlegel and Coleridge combined preface Shakespeare. There is spiritual clairvoyance in its perception of Miss Ward’s intellectual personation, and a now rare knowledge of the rights of good and evil, in both the personation and the drama itself. It is seldom that one meets in criticism with such a satisfactory wholesome wholeness. To you it must give the gratification of something like a final certificate of your gifted Genevieve’s powers. And I am grateful to the writer for also, in his ardent admiration, being so far master of his reason as to be able to declare that human good is the last attainment of the drama in both its parts… Your old doctor, Garth Wilkinson…’ _

1892 Geneveive Ward on tour in South Africa wrote ‘…  While there Mr. Vernon was stricken with Cape fever, and when his son told me I sent him some Aconite. I was the company’s doctor always. My master in medicine was the greatest of our homeopathic physicians – Dr. Garth Wilkinson, who for seventeen years kept my brother alive – and thus I learned a good deal. Mr. Vernon recovered in three days, to everyone’s amazement, and played on the fourth night. Still, my patient had called in the first practitioner in Kimberly, much to my annoyance. When I reproached him for this, he said he had done it because, if anything had happened to him, I might have got into trouble; but he had taken my physic only, and not the doctor’s. The latter’s reputation was immensely enhance by this marvellous cure, as it generally took weeks to get over an attack. We left it at that…’ (Geneviève Ward, Richard Whiteing (Ed.), __Both sides of the curtain, (Cassell and company, ltd., 1918). Page 172. W H Vernon (1839-1905) actor) Genevieve Ward was an English actress, was born in New York March 27 1837, the daughter of Col. Samuel Ward, and at the age of 18 married Count Constantine de Guerbel (a Russian who she became separated from).

She studied singing in Italy and in Paris, and made her first appearance under the stage name of Ginevra Guerrabella at Bergamo in the opera Stella di Napoli (18J5). She further appeared at Milan in Lucrezia Borgia (1856), in Paris in Don Giovanni (1859), in London in Robin Hood (1861) and in New York in La Traviata (1862).

Loss of voice due to an illness obliged her to leave the operatic stage in 1862 and for some years she taught singing in New York, but in 1873 she came to England and began a long dramatic career, appearing first at the Theatre Royal, Manchester, as Lady Macbeth.

In March 1874 she first appeared in London in The Prayer in the Storm and later played with Charles Wyndham in The Hunchback, and at Drury Lane as Rebecca in Ivanhoe (1875). Her most popular success was as Stephanie de Mohrivart in H C Merivale’s and F C Grove’s Forget Me Not, produced by herself at the Lyceum theatre, London, Aug. 21 1879, and subsequently played over 2,000 times all over the world.

Increasing years found her talents as an actress in full vigour, specially in Shakespearean parts, and as late as 1920 and 1921 she repeated her old roles of Volumnia in Coriolanus and Margaret of Anjou in Richard III at the ” Old Vic ” theatre in London.

On her 84th birthday, March 27 1921, she was created DBE. She published a volume of reminiscences (with Richard Whiteing), Before and Behind the Curtain (1918).

Genevieve began her travels at the age of 2, living in Paris, Texas, Cuba, New York, St. Petersberg and Rome:

It was owing to these early sojourns in different countries, flitting from Paris to Italy, from Italy to Cuba, and thence to Paris again, that Genevieve acquired, when so young, not only a knowledge of the French, English, Italian, and Spanish tongues, but an accent in each faultless even in the ears of natives…

In Italy Geneveive studied with Francesco Laperti, and many other famous singing teachers, and she achieved great success on stage in America, England and Europe. However, she lost the edge to her voice after an illness, and dispirited, she taught singing for a while, until she was persuaded to take to the stage as an actress.

Of interest:

Gideon Lee, the Grandfather of Geneveive Ward, was a Mayor of New York,

Lucy Leigh Ward, mother of Genevieve Ward, knew Maria Malibran and Pauline Viardot García, in Italy, and Honore de Balzac Henry Charles FitzRoy Somerset 8th Duke of Beaufort, Paul de Musset in Paris, and she knew the family of Charles Stuart Parnell (whose cousin was the son in law of Edward Cronin),


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