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Grace Atwell

Biography: 

(1874-19?)

Bostonian Grace Atwell cultivated music well before she manifested any inclination for the theater. Finding herself susceptible to theatrical performances she witnessed, she slowly developed a conviction that she would perform on the dramatic stage, not the concert stage. She approached the manager of the Boston Museum Theatre Company, asking for an part they had to offer. In time-honored fashion she rose from extra to minor parts to understudy to her first role, Ruth in "Sweethearts." She stayed with the Company three seasons, then Charles Frohman hired her to play in "Shenandoah." She played all four significant female parts. George Lederer then hired her for a season on the West Coast playing the female lead in "The Irish Statesman."

Atwell was surprisingly shy for a leading lady, and for periods signed onto regional acting troupes, content to play in America's smaller cities. Her active career spanned from 1889 to 1917. David S. Shields/ALS