(I try to recall the points I had jotted down in my notebook but if I have missed out any points or have misunderstood bits of the book please let me know!)
In Victoria era, strolling players, especially actresses, were branded deplorable, feckless or avaricious in many ways negatively. One of the reasons for this perception is that traditionally in Elizabethan times, women are rarely seen on stage and all characters were almost customarily played by men.
However, like Dickens once stated, “Never think ill of those Gaslight Fairies who minister our amusements”; the public might have misjudged and underestimated the competencies, the virtues, and the intelligence that actresses gained and possessed from their occupation. First, they might not have holistic education as Victorian ladies above ranks; they were as resourceful as those in possessing abundant knowledge coming from their workplace, especially on the linguistic field. They cultivated their love of literature and reading from memorizing the lines, poems, monologues from scripts adapted from classics and works of other playwrights since they were of very young age. Secondly, they were of much determined characters; they withstood firmly on their grounds. Kate Perugini (daughter of Charles Dickens) described the Victorian ladies of the day that they were like dexterous angels in carrying duties of household chores and affairs like embroidery and letter-writing with such “enforced idleness”. On the other hand, actresses had the talents and assiduity to be estranged from these matters and chose to stick on their world of acting industry.
For such strong characters as they were, they might not be the luckiest ones in finding eternal loves as ladies of other classes, whether that men played favour on them or not. This case happened most of the time; almost all strolling players had the predilection of ending up having dead ends with their loved ones. For example, in the case of Mrs. Jordan, if she was an aristocrat in closest relations to the royals, or that if she was successful in not being a mistress of the future William IV, her children might have succeeded in being apparent heirs to throne (rather than Queen Victoria), more so she came into terms with her clandestine lover and ended up losing some of her children so as to separate from him. Another actress Fanny Kelly never married; Fanny Kemble divorced from her husband. But they both have their intention of returning to their first love of acting. The Ternan family played on this tradition as well. Thomas Trollope, the famous tragedian, ended up admitting to lunatic asylum after the failure of his managerial duties at Newcastle Theatre, which, at that time, Nelly was only six years old. This did not mean they had to blame their destiny or thought it as a blot in the head for long, The Ternan family remained strenuous in contributing amusement to the public.
Being an actress in London was seen as an advantage and regarded as in the higher rank than other actresses playing in the north. In Mrs. Ternan’s case, she didn’t seem to be succeeding in Convent Garden as an actress as much as in Scotland and Ireland.