Collection consists of correspondence, writings, legal documents, drawings, photographs, printed matter, and other Mansfield family papers. Papers are largely personal in nature with the bulk being Beatrice Cameron's papers. Other members of the family represented in the collection are Hermine Rudersdorff, Richard Mansfield's mother, and George Gibbs Mansfield, the Mansfields' son. Writings are plays and poems; family papers include diaries, daybooks, address books, photographs, scrapbooks, drawings, blueprints, and newspaper clippings.
Biographical/historical: Richard Mansfield (1857-1907) was a prominent actor of the late 19th century. He was born in Helgoland, Germany, into a family that excelled in the performing arts. His mother was the prima donna Hermine Rudersdorff (1822-1882), and his grandfather, the violinist Joseph Rudersdorff (1788-1866). His father, Maurice Mansfield, was a London businessman.
Richard Mansfield began his stage career touring the English provinces in Gilbert and Sullivan and made his first appearance in New York in 1882 in light opera. It was in the United States that Mansfield experienced his greatest success, in nonmusical as well as musical roles, including Prince Karl, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Cyrano de Bergerac, and Beau Brummel, a role created especially for him by Clyde Fitch. He also performed in the Shakespearian parts of Shylock, Brutus, Henry V, and Richard III. He introduced Shaw's drama to America and produced the first English-language version of Peer Gynt, just before his death. He was the author of a number of revised versions of noted plays as well as such original writings as the play Monsieur (1887), and the books Blown Away (1897) and The Adventures of Beatrice and Jessie (1900).
In 1892, Mansfield married Susan Hegeman, who had appeared with his company under her stage name, Beatrice Cameron, since 1886. Beatrice Cameron Mansfield's (circa 1863-1940) outstanding portrayals were Portia in The Merchant of Venice and Nora in A Doll's House (the first U.S. production). Following her husband's death, Beatrice spent a number of years trying to make contact with him through psychic mediums. After the death of her son in 1918, she went to Europe and the Near East to do war relief work. During the 1930s, she commuted from her New London, Connecticut, estate to teach speech and drama and give readings at the Christodora settlement house on New York's Lower East Side.
The Mansfield's only son, George Gibbs Mansfield (1898-1918), died before his twentieth birthday in an army training camp. Sometime after his father's death, he assumed the name Richard Mansfield 2d. He had shown an interest in acting and playwriting, and a volume of his poetry, Courage!, was published the year of his death.
Content: The Richard Mansfield papers span the years 1856 to 1940, with the bulk falling between 1898 and 1940. They consist of handwritten and typewritten documents including letters, diaries, daybooks, address books, plays, poems, transcripts, mortgages, bonds, and other legal papers; as well as drawings, blueprints, photographs, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, and other printed matter. The collection is composed of the papers of family members Hermine Rudersdorff,Richard Mansfield, Beatrice Cameron Mansfield,and George Gibbs Mansfield,with the bulk being Beatrice Mansfield's papers. The papers are largely personal in nature.