Print of Sarah Siddons as Isabella with her son

Print of Sarah Siddons as Isabella with her son

Sarah Siddons was the most famous tragedienne of the 18th century. This is one of her most celebrated roles, the title part in Thomas Southerne's tragedy Isabella or The Fatal Marriage. The heroine, believing herself widowed, marries again, purely for the welfare of her child (who was played by her real son, Henry Siddons). The day after the marriage, she discovers that her first husband is still alive, and driven distracted, she kills herself. Audiences of the time adored such emotional works, and Isabella was known to make grown men cry and women to have fits of hysterics.