Ada Clare (photo courtesy of the Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley)
Ada Agnes Jane McElhenney
|Died||March 4, 1874 (aged 39)|
Life and career
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, but started her career as a writer around age 18, writing under the pseudonyms Clare and later Ada Clare.
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. 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. 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. Clare was devastated, and returned to acting in a provincial stock company. On September 9, 1868, Clare married actor Frank Noyes in Houston, Texas.
- Kenneth T. Jackson: The Encyclopedia of New York City: The New York Historical Society; Yale University Press; 1995. P. 238.
- 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.
- Goldblatt, Gloria Rudman (2015). Ada Clare, Queen of Bohemia: Her Life and Times. p. 106.
- Goldblatt, Gloria Rudman (2015). Ada Clare, Queen of Bohemia: Her Life and Times. p. 115.
- Ada Clare, Queen of Bohemia, by Charles Warren Stoddard, National Magazine, September 1905
- Obituary, Brief Chronicles, William Winter
- 2 short radio segments of Clare's writing from California Legacy Project Radio Anthology (scripts and audio)
- Only a Woman's Heart, by Ada Clare. New York: M. Doolady, 1866.