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By Diane Michael Cantor

THE POISONED desk portrays a passionate competition among fictional actress Isabel Graves and real-life Shakespearean degree sensation Frances Anne “Fanny” Kemble. during this story of ambition, romance, and betrayal, Graves harbors early resentment, confident that Kemble’s relations theatre connections guaranteed Fanny’s choice for the lead position in Romeo and Juliet regardless of Isabel’s better attractiveness and ability. the radical lines their unconnected adventures and performing careers within the outdated and New Worlds, in addition to their advent to the horrors of yank slavery and to romance with one of many wealthiest males in the United States, Pierce Butler, proprietor of Georgia cotton and rice plantations and grasp of greater than 800 slaves. Kemble, an ardent abolitionist, falls in love with Butler and marries him ahead of she discovers his wealth derives completely from slave exertions. notwithstanding completely satisfied to be separated from plantation existence at her husband’s Philadelphia domestic, Kemble is of the same opinion to accompany him on his annual stopover at to examine his Georgia investments. Butler assures his spouse her apprehensions approximately slavery may be assuaged as soon as she sees firsthand its humane day-by-day operation. as a substitute, she is sickened and chronicles her stopover at in magazine of a place of dwelling on a Georgian Plantation in 1838-1839. This account, released in England in 1863, is typically credited with dissuading Britain from helping the Confederacy. in the novel is a play written through Graves’ lover. Set on a slave plantation, the plot portrays a dinner on the master’s desk and the toxic stipulations which produce its bounty, leading to an tried homicide. within the controversy following this play’s beginning evening, Kemble and Graves are back at odds, and their contention maintains as they alter areas at the level of theatre and of life.

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The Poisoned Table: A Novel by Diane Michael Cantor

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