Showing posts from November, 2019

The First Women in the Theatre - Elizabeth Knepp (By author Deborah Swift)

Elizabeth Knepp (sometimes known as Mary Knepp) was born Elizabeth Carpenter and records show she married Christopher Knepp, whom Pepys calls a 'jockey' but was probably a horse dealer or horse hirer, at Knightsbridge in 1659. I took the liberty of giving her the nickname ‘Bird’ in the novel as she loved to sing, and there are so many other Marys and Elizabeths in Pepys’ diary. Beggars Opera There are 108 references to Mrs Knepp in Pepys’ diary. Actresses in those days were always known as ‘Mrs’ whether they were single or married. In the seventeenth century, status was always conferred on a woman by the man. Thus Pepys always refers to his wife Elisabeth as ‘my wife’. Although this seems in our ears to diminish her, in fact this is not an insult; it was designed to confer on her a status not accorded to his servants who were referred to as Dolly, or Deb, or Jane. The theatre was the one place where this did not hold sway – female actors were always called ‘Mrs’ as a