Louisa Lewis - Drury Lane actress

Personal data
Born 1738
Alias
Anne Lewis
Biography

Born Anne Lewis. Married (1755) to Charles Standen, whom she separated ca. 1760. She later married a Mr. Vaughan. Actress at Covent Garden Theatre in 1762-63. Boswell had seen her act, as Mrs. Standen, in Edinburgh at some earlier date, but didn't know her well until December 1762.

Little was known about Lewis until Pottle, in Boswell: The Earlier Years (1766), based on information from C.B. Hogan,1 could inform us about her real name, marriage and a son of hers, who in 1791 was (the winning) party in a trial concerning the inheritance of a certain Mr. Miller [who] left a large estate "to the children of Mr. Charles Standen.".2

  • 1. Charles Beecher Hogan (1906-1981) was an instructor and lecturer at Yale, and one of the foremost authorities on British theatre in the 18th century, as well as an avid collector of papers relating to Jane Austen.
  • 2. Pottle, Frederick A. (1766). Boswell: The Earlier Years. pp. 483-484. Details of the trial, referred to as "Standen vs. Standen, Standen vs. Edwards and Standen vs. Booth" are published in Francis Vesey's Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the High Court of Chancery, volume 2, pp. 589-594.
Life with Boswell

Boswell probably knew Louisa Lewis her from her stint at the theatre in Edinburgh, but her first appearance in his journal is in London on December 14, 1762, after which she is mentioned almost daily (with some exceptions) for the next month. She was Boswell's primary love interest during his London stay. They first consummated their relationship, posing as man and wife, on January 12, 1763, in Hayward's Black Lion Inn. On January 20, 1763, Boswell discovered that he had contracted Gonorrhea (one of about 16 times he got the disease during his lifetime). He accused Louisa of having infected him, which she denied, protesting that she had once had gonorrhoea, but that more than a year had gone since she had any symptoms. Boswell didn't believe her innocence and broke off their relationship. At the time he was not in doubt about her guilt, although he did reconsider the situation on February 10, 1763. The two does not seem to have met again.

In recent times, William Ober, in his analysis of Boswell's medical history, argues that Lewis might well have had the disease "latent and asymptomatic [...] as a low-grade endocervicitis" without knowing it.1

  • 1. Ober, William B. (1979/1988). Boswell's Clap and Other Essays. pp. 6-8.