Sophia Baddeley in a detail from a painting by Johan Zoffany
Early life, 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 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. In that year she appeared in a Royal Command Performance of The Clandestine Marriage on the 12 October. She appeared as Fanny Sterling with Robert as Canton and Thomas King as Lord Ogleby. These three were painted in that role by Johan Zoffany and the painting is now owned by the Garrick Club.
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, the following year.
- Steele, Elizabeth; Bicknell, Alexander (1787). The memoirs of Mrs. Sophia Baddeley, late of Drury Lane Theatre. London, The author.
- Hickman, Katie (2003). Courtesans (1st ed.). HarperCollins. ISBN 9780007113910. ASIN 0007113919.
- Hickman, Katie (2003). Courtesans: Money, Sex and Fame in the Nineteenth Century (First ed.). William Morrow & Company. ISBN 9780066209555. ASIN 0066209552.
- Hastings, Selina (17 August 2003). "The way up was horizontal". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
- "Baddeley, Sophia". System Simulation. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
- Highfill Jr, Philip H.; Burnim, Kalman A.; Langhans, Edward A. (1973). A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers, and Other Stage Personnel in London, 1660-1800: Abaco to Belfille. SIU Press. ISBN 9780809305179.
- "CollectionsOnline | G0023". garrick.ssl.co.uk. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
- Free Library: "The Sentimental Satire of Sophia Baddeley". Accessed 26 February 2013