Fanny Cathcart

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Miss Fanny Cathcart (1833-1880) was a British actress who visited South Africa in the mid 1850s.


Born Mary Fanny Cathcart in England, daughter of a provincial theatrical manager. Her brothers also became well-known performers on the London stage.

She was discovered by the British actor-manager Gustavus V. Brooke in 1853, becoming his leading juvenile actress for two years from September 1854. In 1854 they set out for a tour of the colonies, notably Australia, and having stopped at the Cape en route, arrived in Melbourne to make her début as Desdemona on 26 February at the Queen's Theatre Royal.

She married Robert James Heir in 1855 and would spend the rest of her career as an actress in Australia, later marrying the Australian actor and playwright George Frederick Price Darrell. Between 1872 and 1877 for example they toured New Zealand, America, Brisbane and Adelaide with Darrell's Dramatic Company.

She died, after a long illness, at her home in Carlton, Melbourne on 3 January 1880.

(See the article on "Mary Fanny Cathcart" by Helen M. Van Der Poorten, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969[1])

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

She was a member of the G.V. Brooke company which visited Cape Town en route to the Australian goldfields in 1854-55. The company consisted of Miss Fanny Cathcart and Mr R. Younge and they performed in the Barracks Theatre during the revictualling of their vessel, along with local amateurs.

See further G.V. Brooke


"Mary Fanny Cathcart" by Helen M. Van Der Poorten, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969[2]

F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [3]: pp. 409-412

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