Frances Sheridan - Author of the Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph

Portrait of Frances Sheridan

Frances Sheridan

Born 1724 in Dublin, Ireland
Died 1766 in Blois, France
Alias: 
Frances Chamberlaine
Biography: 

Novelist and playwright. Daughter of the Rev. Phillip Chamberlayne1 and Anastasia Wyte (d. 1724). She met Thomas Sheridan in the 1740s and married him in 1747. They had at least two sons, Charles Francis Sheridan and Richard Brinsley Sheridan.

She wrote the rather succesful novel The Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph (1761), and the popular play The Discovery (1763). Other works include A Journey to Bath and Nourjahad.

  • 1. Frances' father, Philip Chamberlain (d. 1751), had an MA from Kings College, Cambridge, and was the longtime Curate of St. Nicholas. He had at least 4 sons and 2 daughers, including Frances. Walter (d. 1754) became a reverend as his father, Richard became a surgeon, William became Judge in Jamaica, and Anne married (1746) Rev. John Fish and died in 1754.
Life with Boswell: 

According to BiH Boswell had “adopted Thomas Sheridan as his mentor in Edinburgh in 1761, where Sheridan had come to give a series of lectures.” ([BiH], p. 50n2). He was first introduced to Frances Sheridan on November 28, 1762 (his first visit to Sheridan during his London stay). On this occasion he found her “a woman of very homely looks, but very sensible and very clever, as appear from her Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph.” He often visited the Sheridans during the first part of his London stay.

On January 18, 1763 Boswell called on the Sheridans to enquire about a prologue he had written for a new play by Mrs. Sheridan. Apparently Mr. Sheridan didn't care much for Boswell's prologue, and a new one had been written by Mrs. Sheridan herself. This caused Boswell to consider not seeing them again, but eventually he decided to keep enjoying their company without caring about their opinions. On February 3, 1763 Frances Sheridan's comedy The Discovery opened at Drury Lane, attended by Boswell, Dempster, Erskine and Goldsmith to name a few.

Literature: 

Most of Frances Sheridan's writings are available from used bookstores today, including a 1974 reprint by Garland Press of her The History of Nourjahad together with Boswell's Dorando, A Spanish Tale.

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