Celebrity for the week ending
Saturday, 19 April 2008

Rose Leclercq (1845-1899),
English actress

Rose Leclercq

Rose Leclercq

(photo: Adolf Beau, London, circa 1865)

'LECLERCQ, ROSE, born Liverpool; fourth daughter of the late Charles Leclercq, and sister of Carlotta Leclercq. She made her first appearance of any note Saturday, September 28, 1861, at the Princess's Theatre, London, as Mr. Waverly, first performance in England of Playing with Fire ([John] Brougham). On Monday, September 21, 1863, at Drury Lane, first performance of F.C. Burnand's play, The Deal Boadman, she sustained the part of Mary Vance (Mr. [George G.] Belmore as Jacob Vance). On Saturday, October 10, 1863, on the occasion of the revival at Drury Lane, by Mr. [Samuel] Phelps, of Manfred (Byron), she played the part of The Phantom of Astarté. "One word uttered by Miss Rose Leclercq – 'Manfred!' was the great attract of that play." (Athenćum, April 1, 1871.) On Wednesday, August 12, 1868, she acted the heroine, first performance at Princess's Theatre of After Dark ([Dion] Boucicault); and, in the following year, at the Adelphi, the heroine in the same author's Lost at Sea. Monday, March 7, 1870, at the Princess's Theatre, first performance of Dion Boucicault's play, Paul Lafarge, she sustained the character of the heroine. Saturday, November 26, 1870, revival at the Princess's of The Pretty Girls of Stilberg (Mr. Benjamin Webster in his original character of Napoleon), Miss Rose Leclercq played the part of Margot. The following year, at the same theatre, she appeared (February) as Margaret in a revival of King o' Scots; (April) as Marguerite in a revival of the drama, Faust and Marguerite; (May) as Mrs. Stirling in a revival of The Clandestine Marriage; and Tuesday, June 29, 1871, first performance, at the same theatre, of [Edmund] Falconer's drama Eileen Oge; or, Dark's the Hour before Dawn, she personated the heroine. Saturday, March 2, 1872, revival of Ruy Blas at the Adelphi Theatre, London, with Mr. [Charles] Fechter in the title role, Miss Rose Leclercq played the Queen; Saturday, September 28, 1872, revival, at the Princess's Theatre, of Othello (Mr. [Samuel] Phelps as the Moor), she performed the part of Desdemona; and, in a revival of The Merry Wives of Windsor, at the same theatre, December 19, 1874, she played the part of Mrs. Ford. Saturday, September 4, 1875, first performance at Drury Lane of The Shaughraun (Dion Boucicault), Miss Rose Leclercq personated the character of the heroine, Claire Ffolliott. "There are at least two characters in this piece which alone would suffice to raise it far above the level of melodrama. The first of these is Conn the Shaughraun, and the other is the heroine, who is not less natural than Conn himself, though in a different way. Her Irish ready wit and sly sense of humour are by a happy exercise of ingenuity not only combined with qualities of a deeper and more earnest kind, but so interwoven with them that they both act and re-act upon each other. The peculiar position of this heroine – admirably performed by Miss Rose Leclercq – is that she is in love with a young gentleman who is not only of the hated Saxon race but a red-coat. What is more, he is actually the officer commanding the detachment who arrest her brother as an escaped rebel. The reluctance with which she perceives the good qualities of this hero and progress of her affection for him, and the hollowness of the coldness with which she receives the young officer's advances, are delightfully portrayed. There is a humorous playfulness even in her sternest moods, and a fertility of resource about her modes of baffling his attempts to look into her secret heart which, together with many other traits of character, are as subtle and refined as they are fresh and pleasing." (Daily News [London], September 6, 1875).
'Since the year 1875 Miss Rose Leclercq has been mostly engaged travelling as "star" in the provinces; appearing in such parts as Galatea (Pygmalion and Galatea), Hilda (Broken Hearts), comedies by Mr. W.S. Gilbert; and as Ruth in Ruth's Romance. Probably, Miss Rose Leclercq's greatest dramatic triumph has been achieved in the character of Liz, "That Lass o' Lowrie's," in the drama of that title, a part which she has performed with much success both in London and the provinces. The Manchester Examiner noticed this performance as follows:- "Perhaps no other actress could be found on the English stage at the present time so well qualified in every way to assume the difficult part of the title role as Miss Rose Leclercq. Her commanding presence, her boldness in defying her father, and her courage in rescuing Fergus Derrick from the burning mine, stand out in bold relief against the pathos and tenderness displayed at several stages of the play, and notably in the second act, where her interview with Alice Barholm, the daughter of the mine-owner, is particularly affecting."
(Charles E. Pascoe, The Dramatic List, David Bogue, London, 1880, pp.247 and 248)

Rose Leclercq


Rose Leclercq

(photo: Alfred Ellis, London, 1897)

'There are not many better judges of acting than Mr. Pinero; and, as it is known that he takes an active share in settling the casts of his plays, we may be pretty sure when a particular player figures again and again in his comedies, that the fortunate one has undeniable talent for comedy acting. This it is in the case of Miss Rose Leclercq, one of the most capable comedians on our stage, and quite the cleverest representative we have of the grand dame depar le monde, to use Brantome's time-honoured phrase. In The Cabinet Minister, in The Amazons, in The Benefit of the Doubt, and, latest success of all, in The Princess and the Butterfly, she has achieved veritable triumphs, and delighted all audiences by her characteristic humour, her finished style, and her pointed, incisive delivery of the author's witty lines. Even on the French stage it may be doubted whether any acting in this particular line could be seen to excel that of Miss Leclercq at her best, and she has fortunately avoided the pitfall, into which so many players of this class fall both in Paris and in London, of making each separate character represented merely a repetition of the last. Her Marchioness in The Amazons and her Bishop's wife in The Benefit of the Doubt are quite enough to show this, the touches of pathos so admirably introduced into each surprising some even of her warmest admirers. Beginning her career with Charles Kean, and actually making her first appearance before the Queen at Windsor in a performance of The Tempest, Miss Leclercq has had a wide range of theatrical experiences. A long course of melodrama (including After Dark) was succeeded by a return to Shakspere with [Samuel] Phelps at the Princess's, Desdemona being followed by Mrs. Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor. When Mr. [Herbert Beerbohm] Tree produced this play [Haymarket, London, 5 February 1890] Miss Leclercq figured as Mistress Page, and a very excellent performance it was. It is impossible here to name even a tithe of the parts she has played even since 1877, when she made a great advance in public favour as the heroine of That Lass o' Lowerie's. Olivia in Twelfth Night at the Lyceum, Lady Bellaston in Sophia, Lady Bawtrey in The Dancing Girl, Mrs. Fretwell in Sowing the Wind - these are a few of her most notably successes in addition to the Pinero plays already mentioned. Of an actress of so much genuine humour and ability it may be said without undue exaggeration that she touches nothing she does not adorn.'
(The Theatre, London, Tuesday, 1 June 1897, p.310)

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© John Culme, 2008