Woman of the Century/Mary Sophia Thompson
THOMPSON, Miss Mary Sophia, Delsartean instructor and elocutionist, born in Princeton. Ill., in 1859. Her father was a native of London, Eng. Her mother, a descendant of the Puritans, came from central Massachusetts. From her earliest childhood Mary possessed a wonderfuly sweet voice and an equally wonderful aptitude in using it to the very best effect in childish exercises of recitation, dramatization and even weird improvisation. When she grew to womanhood, her talents attracted such attention that the usual inducements looking to a public use of her gifts were not wanting, but so long as the family circle, whose pride she was, continued intact, she preferred her life there. She varied the monotony of country-town existence by accepting an offer to teach in the high school in which she was graduated. Then her father died suddenly, and the daughter was left helpless by a bereavement so terrible as to plunge her into the profoundest dejection and to deprive her of all capacity for ordinary vocations. Feeling assured that then her only refuge lay in unceasing productive activity, she went to Chicago. Ill., and, after some preliminary training under the mastership of Mrs. Abby Sage Richardson, went, by that lady's advice, to Boston, Mass., where she was placed in the classes of the school of oratory of the Boston University, presided over by Louis B. Monroe. There she remained six or seven years as pupil, instructor, and eventually as chief instructor of that institution, where she had for professors and, in time, for colleagues, Alexander Graham Bell, Charles A. Guilmette, Robert Raymond and Prof. MARY SOPHIA THOMPSON. Hudson. At that time the doctrines and principles Of Francois Delsarte were beginning to attract considerable notice, and Miss Thompson promptly threw herself into that art, in all its applications, with a zeal and an aptitude that insured success. Forming a partnership with Miss Genevieve Stebbins, who was at that time Mr. Mackaye's pupil, she went to New York, and they soon founded the first school of Delsarte in that city. From that time onward Miss Thompson's career has been successful Hitherto the teachings of Delsarte had been regarded with suspicion, ridiculed by actors and doubted by the press, but in the famous Delsarte matinees, given by the women in the Madison Square Theater, the narrow provincialism which came to scoff found such genuine merit and sincere artistic enthusiasm and, above all, such exquisite performances, that its opposition was silenced, petty pique gave way to generous admiration, and now Delsarte is the fashion. Miss Thompson has taught in the schools of Mrs. Sylvanus Reed and of the Misses Graham. She is no specialist, in the narrower sense of the word, her achievements and performance ranging from the celebrated "bird notes," for which she has a national renown, to the delivery of a monologue, in which she is extremely successful. She has for some years contributed to various periodicals, mainly upon subjects to which she devotes her talents, and has recently published, in book form, " Rhythmical Gymnastics, Vocal and Physical."