Beatrice Forbes-Robertson Hale

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Beatrice Forbes-Robertson Hale (1883 — 5 September 1967) was an English actress, lecturer, writer, and suffragist.

Early life[edit]

Beatrice Forbes-Robertson was born in England, the daughter of Gertrude Knight and Ian Forbes-Robertson, and the granddaughter of drama critic Joseph Knight. She was the niece of actors Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson and Norman Forbes-Robertson, and the cousin of aviation engineer Maxine (Blossom) Miles and actress Jean Forbes-Robertson.

Career and activism[edit]

Forbes-Robertson was active as an actress from age 17, and a suffrage speaker in England before she moved to New York City in 1907 to continue her theatrical and political work.[1] She joined the New Theatre Company, and played leading and ingenue roles in plays including The Morals of Marcus, The Mollusc, The Cottage in the Air, and Strife by John Galsworthy.[2] She was a member of Heterodoxy, a feminist debating club based in Greenwich Village,[3] and vice president of the Actresses' Franchise League.[4] During World War I she was president of the British War Relief Association, raising funds in New York for military hospitals abroad.[5][6]

Mrs. Hale left the stage after marriage and motherhood, but continued as a lecturer on women's rights,[7][8][9][10] dress reform and fashion,[11][12][13] and theatre topics,[14] into her later years. In 1919 she spoke at a large rally in support of the Girl Scouting movement at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington D. C..[15][16]

Mrs. Hale also wrote several books, including What Women Want: An Interpretation of the Feminist Movement (1914), The Nest Builder (1916, a novel), Little Allies: A Story of Four Children (1918), and What's Wrong with Our Girls? (1923).[17][18] In What Women Want, Hale surveyed the state of the American feminist movement in the 1910s, declaring:

Women have often been taunted with lack of the creative and reasoning faculties. But until the present age the number of women possessing opportunities to develop these has been so small in proportion to men as to make any comparison invidious. Only now are the faculties of women emerging from obscurity....When as many women as men are free to express themselves, there will remain but one struggle on earth, the struggle of all the dispossessed, men and women alike, for their inheritance.[19]

Personal life and legacy[edit]

Beatrice Forbes-Robertson married lawyer Swinburne Hale in 1910.[20][21][22] They were the parents of three daughters, Sanchia (b. 1911), and twins Rosemary and Clemency (b. 1913).[23][24] The Hales divorced in 1920.[25] About 140 of her letters from the period 1913-1919 are in the Swinburne Hale Papers at the New York Public Library.[26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Miss Forbes-Robertson to Lecture," New York Times (7 June 1911): 9.
  2. ^ "Actress Suffragist to Marry Lawyer," New York Times (29 April 1910): 9.
  3. ^ Kate E. Wittenstein, "The Heterodoxy Club and American Feminism 1912-1930" (PhD diss., Boston University 1989).
  4. ^ "Suffrage Association to be Organized when Beatrice Forbes-Robertson Comes to Lecture," Montreal Gazette (4 December 1912): 3.
  5. ^ Ross J. Wilson, New York and the First World War: Shaping an American City (Ashgate 2014): 94-95. ISBN 1472419499
  6. ^ Katherine Schorr, Excluded from the Record: Women, Refugees, and Relief, 1914-1929 (Peter Lang 2009): 112. ISBN 3039118552
  7. ^ "Equality Picked as Subject for Town Hall Talk: Mrs. Hale will Discuss Movement's Progress This Evening," Washington Post (5 December 1937): 10.
  8. ^ "To Talk to League of Women Voters: Mrs. Catt, Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Park, and Mrs. Vanderlip to be Speakers at Conference Dinner," New York Times (14 November 1920): E1.
  9. ^ "Women Active in Politics: Mrs. Beatrice Hale Tells of Part they are Taking in Britain," New York Times (18 January 1925): 23.
  10. ^ "Women are Told to Put Babies Ahead of Votes; Mrs. Hale Says Home is Center of Activity," Chicago Daily Tribune (12 March 1922): 14.
  11. ^ "Fashion Follies Are Laid to Men: Mrs. Forbes Robertson Hale Also Blames the Garment Trust," Washington Post (19 September 1919): 5.
  12. ^ "Flappers the Result of a Dry Climate Which Overstimulates, says British Writer," New York Times (14 January 1923): E1.
  13. ^ "Frock Coat Relic of His Former Style, Mrs. Hale Tells Doctors," New York Times (19 September 1919): 14.
  14. ^ "Finds Stage Improving: Mrs. Beatrice Hale, Former Actress, Praises Modern Plays," New York Times(25 January 1932): 21.
  15. ^ "Beatrice Forbes-Robertson Will Speak for Girl Scouts' Course at Rally in D. A. R. Memorial Hall," Washington Post (4 December 1919): 2.
  16. ^ "Health Tips for Girls: Modern Mothers Puny, Says Mrs. Forbes-Robertson Hale," Washington Post (7 December 1919): 24.
  17. ^ Beatrice Forbes-Robertson Hale, What Women Want: An Interpretation of the Feminist Movement (Frederick A. Stokes Company 1914).
  18. ^ Beatrice Forbes-Robertson Hale, The Nest Builder: A Novel (Frederick A. Stokes Company 1916).
  19. ^ Lana F. Rakow, "Feminist Approaches to Popular Culture: Giving Patriarchy its Due," in John Storey, ed. Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: A Reader (University of Georgia Press 2006): 201. ISBN 0820328499
  20. ^ "Actress Suffragist to Marry Lawyer," New York Times (29 April 1910): 9.
  21. ^ "Gives Up Heart, But Not Career: Beatrice Forbes-Robertson is to Marry," Los Angeles Times (30 April 1910): 11.
  22. ^ "Actress Suffragist Weds on Arrival," New York Times(1 July 1910): 7.
  23. ^ "Seldom September Morns: Mrs. Hale's Babies Were Undressed on Beach Only for Few Minutes," New York Times (12 August 1915): 18.
  24. ^ "Suffrage Orator, Defender of Motherhood, Has Twins: Mrs. Beatrice Forbes-Robertson Hale of New York Proves Sincerity of Teaching, Bears Girl Babies," New York Times (21 December 1913): 1.
  25. ^ "Swinburne Hale, Lawyer, 53, Dies," New York Times (4 July 1937): A6.
  26. ^ Finding aid, Swinburne Hale Papers, New York Public Library.