Frances Sheridan - Author of the Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph
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, and two daughters, Ann Elizabeth and Alicia.2
She wrote the rather successful 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 daughters, 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.
- 2. Ann Elizabeth married Capt. Henry le Fanu. In 1824, their daughter, Alicia le Fanu (1791-1826) wrote a biography of her grandmother titled Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Mrs Frances Sheridan
Boswell had “adopted Thomas Sheridan as his mentor in Edinburgh in 1761, where Sheridan had come to give a series of lectures.”1 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 inquire 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, George Dempster, MP, Andrew Erskine and author Oliver Goldsmith to name but a few.
Most of Frances Sheridan's writings are available from used bookstores via AbeBooks, including a 1974 reprint by Garland Press of her The History of Nourjahad together with Boswell's Dorando, A Spanish Tale.