Paul, Isabella Howard (DNB00)

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PAUL, ISABELLA HOWARD (1833?–1879), actress and vocalist, was born at Dartford, Kent, and made her first appearance on the London stage as Isabella Featherstone in March 1853, playing at the Strand, under the management of F. W. Allcroft, Captain Macheath in the ‘Beggar's Opera.’ Possessing great vivacity and spirit, distinct vocal gifts, and considerable stage talent, she made an immediate mark, and was engaged at Drury Lane and subsequently at the Haymarket, where she played Macheath on 24 April 1854. The same year, with Mr. Howard Paul, whom she married in 1857, she played in the country Paul's ‘Locked Out.’ In 1858 she took part with him in ‘Patchwork,’ described as ‘a clatter of fun, frolic, song, and impersonation.’ On 3 July of the same year she was Sir Launcelot de Lake (sic) in the ‘Lancashire Witches, or the Knight and the Giants,’ a burlesque included in an entertainment with which George Webster opened the Lyceum. In entertainments given by herself and her husband in town and country in 1860 and successive years, Mrs. Paul's share consisted largely of imitations of Mr. Henry Russell, Mr. Sims Reeves, and other known vocalists, in which she was very successful. On 2 Sept. 1867 she was at the Strand playing Mrs. Dove in her husband's ‘Ripples on the Lake.’ On 29 Aug. 1872 she played at Covent Garden Mistigris in Boucicault's ‘Babil and Bijou,’ with music by M. Hervé and Frederick Clay. Her most ambitious effort was her appearance at Drury Lane in February 1869 as Lady Macbeth to the Macbeth of Phelps and Charles Dillon on alternate nights. Anticipating subsequent actresses, she softened Lady Macbeth, subjugating to conjugal love the sterner traits ordinarily assigned the character. With this performance, which was not wanting in intensity, she doubled that of Hecate. She was also seen in Paris in comic opera. At the Olympic she appeared in the ‘Grand Duchess,’ and she took round the country a company of her own, playing a species of drawing-room entertainment. In November 1877, as Lady Sangazure in the ‘Sorcerer’ of Mr. Gilbert and Mr. (now Sir Arthur) Sullivan, she appeared at the Opera Comique. This proved to be her last London engagement. While performing at Sheffield in the ‘Crisis’ in 1879 she was taken suddenly ill; she was brought home to London, and on 6 May 1879 died at her residence, 17 The Avenue, Bedford Park, Turnham Green. She was buried at Brompton cemetery. Mrs. Howard Paul was a woman of ability, whose talents were often frittered away in parts and occupations unworthy of them.

[Personal recollections; Era Newspaper, 15 May 1879; Pascoe's Dramatic List; Scott and Howard's Memoirs of E. L. Blanchard; Era Almanack, various years; Sunday Times, various years.]

J. K.