Carr, Mary (later Clarke)

unknown [early 1790s  – ?]


Dramatic Works

The Fair Americans: A Play of the War of 1812 (1815)
The Benevolent Lawyers; or, Villainy Detected (1823)

Sarah Maria Cornell, or The Fall River Murder (1833)



The Fair Americans: A Play of the War of 1812  (1815)


Production & Reception History

Production History: Probably performed in Philadelphia on January 6, 1815, under the title The Return from Camp

Print & Publication History

“Printed and published by Mrs. Carr, No. 5 Hartung’s Alley, Philadelpcarr_fair-americanshia, and may be had at Mrs. Neale’s Library, No. 119 South Third Street, Philadelphia”

Genre & Structure

  • Comedy in five acts, interspersed with songs
  • Prefatory material
    • Two-line poem written by the author, offering her play – which she refers to as a “trembling offspring of a feeble mind” – to the reading public
    • Letter “To Apollo” signed with Mary Carr’s initials “M.C.”
    • Prologue “Written by a friend” urging readers to acknowledge American dramatic talent (extant only in part)

Gender Relevance

Female role models for American women (i.e. Carr’s ‘fair Americans’); female protagonists distinguished by their “strength of mind, purity of heart, magnanimity of soul, sweetness of temper and domestic virtues;” masculinity validated through courage, valor and a patriotic mindset (Charles Harley, William Fairfield);  masculinity undermined by vanity, idleness and cowardice (Ensign Freelove)

Key Words & Themes

National female character; patriotism; negotiation of arguments both in support of and in opposition to war; national stock characters: native Americans (the ‘savage Indians’) & stage Irishman (Dermot); valiant English officers (“Though in an enemy’s country, let us not forget it is a soldier’s duty to protect the fair”); intermarriage between Americans and British (Captain Belford and Sophia Fairfield)

Additional Information

Author: Marry Carr Clarke did not only write plays but also fiction and poetry, such as the serialized novel Clermont Herbert and several popular songs. In 1814, she founded a weekly magazine entitled The Intellectual Regale and Ladies’ Tea Tray.  Little is known of Mary Carr Clarke’s life and career. The only biographical information available on the author has been drawn from her autobiographical preface to The Memoirs of the Celebrated and Beautiful Mrs. Ann Carson, a biography disguised as an ‘autobiography’ ghostwritten by Mary Carr Clarke.

Availability

Kritzer, Amelia Howe, ed. Plays by Early American Women, 1775-1850. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995. 182-215. Print.

Early American Imprints, Series 2, no. 34360

Secondary Sources

Kritzer, Amelia Howe. Introduction. Plays by Early American Women, 1775-1850. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2009. 1-28. Print.

Kritzer, Amelia Howe. “Mary Carr Clarke’s Dramas of Working Women, 1815-1833.” The Journal of American Drama and Theatre 9.3 (1997): 24-39. Web. 3 Nov. 2016.

Stearns, Bertha Monica. “Early Philadelphia Magazines for Ladies.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 64.4 (1940): 479-491. Web. 3 Nov. 2016. [Includes information on Carr’s weekly magazine The Intellectual Regale and Ladies’ Tea Tray]



 

The Benevolent Lawyers; or, Villainy Detected  (1823)


carr_benevolent-lawyers

Print & Publication History

“Sold, Wholesale and Retail, at No. 204, Chestnut Street, and 110 Walnut Street, Philadelphia” (title page)

Genre & Structure

  • (Melodramatic) comedy in five acts
  • Prefatory material
    • Dedication: “To the Gentlemen of the Bar”
    • Prologue

Gender Relevance

Self sufficient, working female protagonist (albeit home-based work: sewing); insights into life and work of women in the early nineteenth century; domestic/private/female versus public/male sphere; patriarchy; absent husband; male villains; sexual assault; female passivity; male power; murderously malignant mother; female virtues (sincerity, modesty, beauty, reason, honor, integrity);  display of male emotionality and weakness (distressed husband collapsing on stage)

Key Words & Themes

Poverty, free black household worker; benevolent lawyers; kidnap; (threatened) rape; family life; private versus public;

Additional Information

Author: On the play’s title page, the author is referred to as “M. Clarke, Authoress of the Fair Americans;” this suggests that the dramatist and her first play were (at least locally) known

Copyright note: “Eastern District of Pennsylvania to Wit: Be it remembered, that on the twentieth day of February, in the Forty-seventh year of the Independence of the United States of America A. D., 1823, Mary Clarke, of the said District, hath deposited in this office the Title of a Book, the right whereof she claims as Author, in the words following, to wit: The Benevolent Lawyers; or, Villainy Detected.” (signed “D. Caldwell, Clerk of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania”)

Availability

Early American Imprints Series 2

Secondary Sources

Kritzer, Amelia Howe. Introduction. Plays by Early American Women, 1775-1850. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2009. 1-28. Print.

Kritzer, Amelia Howe. “Mary Carr Clarke’s Dramas of Working Women, 1815-1833.” The Journal of American Drama and Theatre 9.3 (1997): 24-39. Web. 3 Nov. 2016.

Stearns, Bertha Monica. “Early Philadelphia Magazines for Ladies.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 64.4 (1940): 479-491. Web. 3 Nov. 2016. [Includes information on Carr’s weekly magazine The Intellectual Regale and Ladies’ Tea Tray]