An Oregonian with an intellectual bent, Maude Hoffman rose from the ranks of society elocutionists in Back Bay, Boston to the stage in 1893, when she performed Juliet to Annie Clark's Romeo at the Gand Opera House. Wilson Willard Barrett secured her for his company and took her to England in 1894 to perform Shakespeare.
Trained by Parson Price, head of the New York Institute of Vocal Art, Maude Hoffman had a peculiar intelligence in conveying unexpected meaning from texts through vocal inflection. Her rather cerebral approach to character made her stand at odds from the emotional tragediennes of the previous generation and pleased Barrett who had decided ideas about the modern presentation of classical plays. After two years of incessant touring with Barrett, she opted to join Frederick Warde for the 1895-96 season. In 1896-97 she signed on as the ingenue of the E.S. Williard Company performing in a contemporary drama, "The Middleman."
After touring with Williard Hoffman joined the Augustin Daly stock company where her abilities as an actress were broadened considerably. Another modern play in which she starred was Augustus Thomas's "Colorado" (1901). Her greatest Shakespearean role was the 1903 Calpurnia to Richard Mansfield's "Julius Caeser."
At this time Hoffman became increasingly fascinated with mythology and religion, becoming a theosophist. Much of her later career was spent on foreign stages. David S. Shields/ALS