"Starring Madame Modjeska is based on very solid archival research, yet it is written with lightness and grace—qualities inspired by the character of the formidable protagonist of this excellent book." —Slavic Review
"[A] fastidiously researched and fascinating portrayal of an actor’s life. ... While theater enthusiasts will enjoy the care and detail that Beth Holmgren took with Starring Madame Modjeska: On Tour in Poland in America, readers of history will appreciate the role this woman played on the world’s stage. It makes for great drama." —NewPages
"Starring Madame Modjeska offers insight into not only the prodigious life of a captivating actress who crafted her own unique romantic acting style as well as her public persona; it also provides a colorful portrait of the nineteenth-century theatre." —Cosmopolitan Review
On this day in 1840, actress Helena Modrzejewska was born in Krakow, Poland. She is the subject of a new biography by Beth Holmgren. In Starring Madame Modjeska, Holmgren traces Modjeska's fabulous life and career from her illegitimate birth in Krakow, to her successive reinventions of herself as a star in both Poland and America, and finally to her enduring legacy.
After enjoying a successful acting career in Poland, Modrzejewska emigrated to southern California in 1876. Within a year she made her debut in the title role of Adrienne Lecouvreur at San Francisco's California Theatre. She changed her name to Modjeska and quickly became a leading star on the American stage, where she reigned for the next 30 years. During this time, she established herself as America's most esteemed Shakespearean actress, playing opposite such celebrated actors as Edwin Booth and Maurice Barrymore.
"In this beautifully constructed and densely argued volume, Cole attends to actors, scripts, and audiences, and also to the literary and artistic renderings that carried the TRC hearings to a nation and to the world." —Interventions
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Beth Holmgren, author of the forthcoming book Starring Madame Modjeska, will speak on "Framing Polish Jews: What Happens When Film Usurps Reality" on Wednesday, May 11 at 7:30 p.m. at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.
The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information on the event, visit the Rockbridge Weekly website.