Woman of the Century/Maria Porter Brace

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BRACE, Miss Maria Porter, educator and elocutionist, born in Penn Yan. N. Y., in July, 1852. Her early life was spent in Leavenworth, Kans. Her father was one of the first settlers in Kansas MARIA PORTER BRACE.jpgMARIA PORTER BRACE. and there the family home has always remained. Miss Brace was educated in Vassar College and was graduated in 1872. A special course in elocution followed under Prof. Robert R. Raymond, in the Boston School of Oratory. These studies, preceded by practice in teaching and reading in the West, were followed by an engagement as teacher of elocution in Vassar College. During several years of residence there, a certain time was reserved every winter for work outside of the college community. In teaching as well as in reading Miss Brace has always associated the art of elocution with the interpretation of the best literature. Her annotated readings from the English classics and from recent masterpieces of prose and poetry often formed a supplement to the course in English literature in schools. In 1883 Miss Brace made her first visit to Europe, Through the influence of Monsieur Regnier, the French actor and teacher, she was admitted to the daily sessions of the dramatic classes in the Conservatoire National de Musique et de Declamation, in Paris. A close study of the French classics in the hands of the pupils and of their masters, the four leading actors of the Theatre Francais, proved a valuable lesson in dramatic reading and criticism. In addition to the daily rehearsals in the Conservatoire, diere were talks with M. Regniei, who generously gave his criticism of her own work. The course in the Conservatoire was supplemented by frequent visits to the Theatre Francais, where the professors were often seen in their well-known roles as actors. Miss Brace's interest in the art of acting received a great impulse from that winter in Paris Upon her return to New York she read, in the Madison Square Theater, an account of the methods of the Theatre Francais as taught in the National Conservatoire. The lecture attracted the attention of actors and critics who were present and has been repeated many times in New York and elsewhere. During the spring of 1884 an effort was being made to establish in New York a school for actors. Miss Brace became actively interested in the undertaking and was at once engaged as a teacher of dramatic elocution and lecturer upon dramatic literature She has also taught elocution in the Brearley School for Girls since its opening in New York, in 1884. Her lectures and readings have become favorably known in Philadelphia and New York. The topics are "Francois Del Sarto in Paris," "Colloquial Elocution" and "Professional Elocution." Miss Brace has made occasional contributions to periodical literature upon various phases of her chosen subject, and she is constantly collecting material, both at home and abroad, for further essays and lectures, including a text-book of elocution. In addition to her active work in her profession, Miss Brace has been interested in the social life of her cotemporaries. She has been a frequent contributor to the monthly conversations of Die Meridian Club. She has represented the alumnae of her own college on the governing board of the College Settlement. That home in the slums of the East Side represents the first organized effort of college-bred women to improve the condition of life among the poor. She was one of the founders and the first president of the Women's University Club of New York.