Sassy Living Below the Mason-Dixon Line


Elizabeth Linley Sheridan

I have embarked on an exciting new creative project!  It involves my great-great grandmother Sarah Sheridan Ward.  She was a prose writer and poet in the 1800s, and researching her has been so much fun.  I am amazed at how many writers are on my family tree, beginning with Sarah’s cousin, Richard Brinsley Sheridan.  He was famous for founding London’s Drury Lane Theatre and writing the English comedy, The School for Scandal.  His wife, Elizabeth Linley was even more extraordinary.

 

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She was born in 1754, one of seven children of the harpsichordist and composer Thomas Linley.   At the age of twelve, Lady Linley was already singing at Covent Garden, and her success was so great that her father could buy a substantial house in Bath, England with her earnings.  Thomas Gainsborough was so besotted with her that he painted her at least four times, and The Honourable Sheridan eloped with Lady Linley to Calais, France.

That’s why I love the holidays (and being a writer) — being thankful for family you didn’t know you had, and feeling kinship with them as an artist.  Here are several of Gainsborough’s paintings of Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan.  The above portrait hangs in Washington’s National Gallery of Art, directly opposite Napoleon and just round the corner from George Washington!

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