Stebbins's Charlotte Cushman: Her Letters and Memories of Her Life (1878)

Stebbins Bio.JPG

Dublin Core


Stebbins's Charlotte Cushman: Her Letters and Memories of Her Life (1878)


Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876
Actors and Actresses--US American
Relationships-- Intimate--Same-sex
Stebbins, Emma, 1815-1882


Biography of Charlotte Cushman, written after her death by her spouse Emma Stebbins. The transcribed correspondence between Stebbins and Sidney Lanier (who had originally been chosen as the author of the biography) details the painstaking process of securing a publisher and locating relevant sources for this monument to Cushman's life and career. Among other things, the letters reveal that Stebbins was adamant that “that memoir […] must be written by those who loved her, lest unworthy and careless hands undertake it” (“Stebbins to Lanier”, 1 March 1876).
In one letter, Stebbins laments that “we have nothing but letters and our memories” (“Stebbins to Lanier”, 27 March 1876) – which eventually seems to have inspired the book's title. For more on this correspondence and its implications for the memory of Charlotte Cushman, see "Of Gaps and Gossip: Intimacy in the Archive" (Katrin Horn, Anglia, 2020).
The memoir opens with a summary of Cushman's (supposed) Pilgrim ancestry and continues with a recollection of her youth, which Cushman seems to have dictated to Stebbins before her death.


Stebbins, Emma, 1815-1882


Houghton - Osgood and Company





Auto/Biography Item Type Metadata

Secondary Texts: Comments

Jackson states that Charlotte "requested" (84) Stebbins to write the biography.

Sharon Marcus notes that "Emma Stebbins wrote a biography of her former spouse that, with the reticence and impersonality typical of the lifewriting [during the Victorian era], made only one direct statement about their relationship: "It was in the winter of 1856-57 that the compiler of these memoirs first made Miss Cushman's acquaintance, and from that time the current of their two lives ran, with rare exceptions, side by side." But Stebbins attested to her marital connection with Cushman through the very act of writing the biography as a memoir, in her pointed exclusion of Cushman's other lovers from her account, in her detailed description of their shared apartment in Rome, and in a ten-page inventory of their pets, including dogs named Teddy and Bushie." (197)

Social Bookmarking



Stebbins, Emma, 1815-1882, “Stebbins's Charlotte Cushman: Her Letters and Memories of Her Life (1878),” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed July 18, 2024,

Output Formats