Ada Clare

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For the character Ada Clare in the novel by Charles Dickens see Bleak House
Ada Clare
Ada Clare.jpg
Ada Clare (photo courtesy of the Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley)
Ada Agnes Jane McElhenney

July 1834
DiedMarch 4, 1874(1874-03-04) (aged 39)
OccupationActress, writer
Years active1858–1874

Ada Clare (pen names, Clare and Ada Clare; July 1834 – March 4, 1874) was an American actress and writer.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Ada Agnes Jane McElhenney was born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1834. She grew up under the care of her maternal grandfather as part of an aristocratic Southern family,[1] but started her career as a writer around age 18, writing under the pseudonyms Clare and later Ada Clare.[2]

She moved to New York City in 1854, took up acting, engaged in a widely publicized liaison with pianist and composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk, and bore a son out of wedlock.[1] During the height of her acting career, she frequented Pfaff's Cellar, where she became known as the "Queen of Bohemia". She also wrote for the Saturday Press, an iconoclastic weekly magazine of the arts.[1] Her only novel, entitled Only a Woman's Heart, was poorly received by reviewers, who criticized the author for her lack of skill with plot and dialogue.[3] Clare was devastated, and returned to acting in a provincial stock company.[1] On September 9, 1868, Clare married actor Frank Noyes in Houston, Texas.[4]

Clare suffered a dog bite in her theatrical agent's office and died from rabies in 1874.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Kenneth T. Jackson: The Encyclopedia of New York City: The New York Historical Society; Yale University Press; 1995. P. 238.
  2. ^ Adrian Room. Dictionary of Pseudonyms. p. 505. Ada Clare:Jane McElheney... also wrote as Clare and Alastor, and acted as Agnes Stanfield. ..original surname ... given as McEhenney, McElHenney, McElehnny, McElhinney, McEthenery, and McEthenney... called herself Ada McElhenny.
  3. ^ Goldblatt, Gloria Rudman (2015). Ada Clare, Queen of Bohemia: Her Life and Times. p. 106.
  4. ^ Goldblatt, Gloria Rudman (2015). Ada Clare, Queen of Bohemia: Her Life and Times. p. 115.

External links[edit]