Brand, Hannah (DNB00)

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BRAND, HANNAH (d. 1821), actress and dramatist, younger sister of John Brand, d. 1808 [q. v.], kept a school at Norwich in conjunction with an elder sister Mary. But Hannah soon abandoned teaching for the stage, and on 18 Jan. 1792 appeared with the Drury Lane Company at the King's Theatre (Opera House) in the Haymarket, in her own tragedy of 'Huniades.' This piece, not without merit, was received during its progress with much favour. It proved too long, however, and the performance of Miss Brand, who was announced as making 'her first appearance upon any stage,' deprived it of what chance it might have had with an actress of more experience as the heroine. After the first representation it was withdrawn, but was reproduced on 2 Feb. with the title of 'Agmunda,' and with the omission of the character of Huniades, originally played by John Kemble. This curious experiment proved no more successful than the first, and piece and author vanished from London. Two years later, 20 March 1794, she appeared at the York Theatre, playing Lady Townly in the 'Provoked Husband.' Formality of manner, a rigour in dress entirely out of keeping with the notions then prevalent, and it may have been a provincialism of pronunciation of which her manager, Tate Wilkinson, complains, stirred against her the feminine portion of the audience, and her first appearance, 'so far from being well received, met with rude marks of disgustful behaviour, and that from ladies who did not add by such demeanour addition to their politeness or good understanding' (Tate Wilkinson, The Wandering Patentee, iv. 158). She remained in York till the last night of the season, 21 May 1794, when she appeared in her own play of 'Agmunda,' in which she was derided. In the summer she played in Liverpool with no greater success. Starched in manner, virtuous in conduct, and resolute in her objection to a low-cut dress, she seems, according to Tate Wilkinson, to have had little chance of succeeding on the stage. Her defeat she attributed to the jealousy of Mrs. Siddons and the Kembles. Of her play she thought so highly that she would not for fear of theft trust the whole manuscript to the prompter, but copied out with her own hand the entire play, except her own part, which she reserved. Many curious stories show how high was her estimate of her own capacity. Wilkinson says that, apart from her tragedy airs, she possessed many good qualities, that she was estimable in her private character, and endowed with a good understanding. The editors of the 'Biographia Dramatica,' who saw her performance in 'Huniades,' find fault with her deportment, but say that her acting was marked by discrimination. In 1798 she published in Norwich, in 8vo, a volume of 'Dramatic and Poetical Works,' containing: (1) 'Adelinda,' a comedy founded on 'La Force du Naturel' of Destouches; (2) 'The Conflict, or Love, Honour, and Pride,' an heroic comedy adapted from 'Don Sanche d'Arragon,' by Pierre Corneille; and (3) 'Huniades, or the Siege of Belgrade,' a tragedy, with some miscellaneous poems. After her failure on the stage, Miss Brand again became a governess. Her pupil was a married lady, and her eccentric conduct was the cause of much unpleasantness between husband and wife. Miss Brand died in March 1821.

[Genest's History of the Stage; Tate Wilkinson's Wandering Patentee; Baker, Reed, and Jones's Biographia Dramatica; History of the Theatres of London from the year 1771 to 1795, 2 vols. (Oulton); Nichols's Lit. Illustrations, vi. 534-7; Beloe's Sexagenarian.]

J. K.