Maria Franck

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Maria Franck
Born Maria Kristina Franck
2 February 1769
Died 17 April 1847
Other names Kristina Ruckman
Spouse(s) Johan Gustav Ruckman

Maria Kristina Franck (2 February 1769 – 17 April 1847), was a Swedish actress and drama teacher. She belonged to the pioneer generation at the Royal Dramatic Theatre and belonged to the stars of the first troupe there during her first twenty years on stage. Later, she was active as principal of the theatre school Dramatens elevskola. She is considered as her country's first native tragedienne. During her last years on stage, she was known under her name as married, Ruckman.


Born as child of a bricklayer journeyman, Maria Franck was educated as a student in the French theatre in Bollhuset from 1784; she was presented for Jacques Marie Boutet de Monvel as a great natural talent, and he decided to educate her entirely as an actor for speaking parts, not as a singer. Her breakthrough was delayed a couple of years, some historians say this was because of the intrigues and jealousy of some of her colleagues, who stopped her from getting the leading roles.

In 1788, she was finally made premier-actress, and during the regency (1792–96) she did get her breakthrough, was met with overwhelming enthusiasm in tragic parts, especially suicide-scenes, and enjoyed a successful career for thirty years as one of the most popular actresses in Sweden. She played not only in Stockholm, but toured the country as well. In 1788–1803, she was a member of the actor's board of directors formed by the actors themselves to run the theatre. She also taught the students at Dramatens elevskola as an instructor of declamation. Among her students were future stars such as Sara Torsslow and Charlotta Eriksson.

She was described as acting with a deep feeling and great intensity and a with good control over her mimic that was never melodramatic. She did, occasionally performed in singing parts as well. Among her parts were "One of the pleasures" in Armide by Gluck (season 1786–87), Maria in Gustaf Adolf och Ebba Brahe (Gustaf Adolf and Ebba Brahe) by Gustav III (1787–88), Flattery in Alcides inträde i världen (The arrival of Alcide in to the world) by Haeffner (1793–1794), Theodora in De gamla friarna (The old suitors) by Dalayrac (1795–96), Antiope in Renaud by Haeffner (1800–1801), Sabina in Den förmente prinsen (The supposed Prince) (1807–1808), Madame de Veronne in Ambroise (1812–13), Gertrud in Den Schweiziska familjen (The Swiss family) (1815–16) and the abbess in Nunnorna (The nuns).

Her most noted performances was Thilda in Oden, Celestina and the Abess in Korsfararne (Crusaders) by Kotzebue, and the leading parts in Virginia by Paykull, Johanna af Montfaucon by Kotzebue and Mrs Dorsan in Den svartsjuka hustrun (The jealous wife); the latest one (1808) was considered to be her greatest triumph. She also played comedy and opera. She lasted longer than most female members of her generation on the stage, but the last years, her way of acting was considered too theatrical; she acted according to the French tradition, which had then became unfashionable.

In 1808, at the age of thirty-nine, she married the eleven years younger artist (engraver) Johan Gustav Ruckman (1780–1862), and some books therefore list her as Kristina Ruckman, though she was in her lifetime known as Maria Franck.

In 1818, she retired after having asked for and being granted a full pension, and in 1819–1823 she followed in the footsteps of Anne Marie Milan Desguillons and Sofia Lovisa Gråå and became principal and director for the theatres students at Dramatens elevskola.


  • Alf Henrikson:Fram till Nybroplan (Toward Nybroplan) (Swedish)
  • Anteckningar om svenska qvinnor (Swedish)
  • Nordisk familjebok / 1800-talsutgåvan. 13. Pontin - Ruete (Swedish)
  • Torsten Dahl: Svenska män och kvinnor. Nr 6 (Swedish men and women. Dictionary)(Swedish)
  • Carin Österberg: Svenska Kvinnor; föregångare, nyskapare (Swedish women; Predecessors, pioneers) (1990) (Swedish)
  • Kungliga teatern: Repertoar 1773-1973 (The repertoire of the royal theatre 1773-1973) 1974 (Swedish)
  • Georg Nordensvan: Svensk teater och svenska skådespelare från Gustav III till våra dagar. Första bandet 1772-1842 (Swedish theatre and Swedish actors from Gustav III to our days 1772-1842) (1917) (Swedish)