Mrs Baddeley in the role of Joan of Arc
Early life, musical career
She was born in London, the daughter of Valentine Snow, a sergeant-trumpeter. As a child, she was trained by her father for a future musical career. At the age of eighteen she eloped with the actor Robert Baddeley, then on the stage at Drury Lane. She made her first appearance as an actress there on 27 April 1765, as Ophelia in Hamlet. She also played Cordelia in King Lear, Imogen in Cymbeline and later Olivia in Twelfth Night. In 1769, she joined David Garrick's theatre company when he staged the Stratford Jubilee. More noted as a talented singer than an actress, she obtained engagements at Ranelegh and Vauxhall to public acclaim.
Life as a courtesan
At the height of her success and after separating from her husband in 1770, she discovered that she could sustain herself financially by finding wealthy benefactors, establishing herself as a courtesan to them. Probably her best-known lover was Peniston Lamb, 1st Viscount Melbourne. She was famous for her beauty, and was also noted for her extravagant lifestyle. Her overspending and ultimate failure in managing her finances eventually obliged her to take refuge from her creditors in Dublin, Ireland and later Edinburgh, Scotland. Her benefactors gone, and her own health in decline, she made her last appearance on the stage in Edinburgh in 1785. She died of consumption, aged 41.
- Telegraph: The way up was horizontal
- Free Library: "The Sentimental Satire of Sophia Baddeley". Accessed 26 February 2013
- Steele, Elizabeth (6 Vols., 1787). Memoirs of Mrs. Sophia Baddeley
- Hickman, Katie (2003). Courtesans: Money, Sex and Fame in the Nineteenth Century