Lavinia Fenton

(1710—1760) actress and singer

Quick Reference

(b Westminster, London, 7 Oct 1710; d Greenwich, 24 Jan 1760). English actress and singer. She made her acting début in 1726 at the Haymarket Theatre, London, and sprang to fame in 1728 when she created Polly Peachum in The Beggar's Opera at Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre. After she had sung the part more than 60 times, she retired, becoming mistress of the third Duke of Bolton (Charles Powlett, or Paulet), who married her immediately after the death of his wife in 1751 – 23 years after taking her off the stage. William Hogarth's painting of The Beggar's Opera (1731; Tate collection) shows the duke, in a box on stage, staring lovingly at her. The toast of the town by the age of 17, she combined ingenuous sweetness and youthful charm.

From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Opera.