Blog Genevieve Stebbins

Genevieve on Stage in Boston, 1884

The career of Genevieve Stebbins as a teacher of drama, dance and calisthenics had taken off by the time of her first marriage in 1888. But four years earlier she was just a struggling young actress as seen in this newpaper story dated November 9, 1884. How did she transform herself in such a short time? Studying and writing about Delsarte’s theories shows that Parisian influences were strong; Astley later refers to Henri Bergson in a way that makes me think he was a personal acquaintance. I noticed such a friendly reference to philosopher William James in his book that I wondered if they were in fact friends. This was later confirmed by a Canadian scholar who had read James discussing meeting Stebbins at a Chatauqua conference. What I cannot find is any evidence of her having been a member of the HBofL although this is stated as a fact in several books. We have all the US membership names through 1888 so she would have to have joined in Europe or after 1888– but none of the European and Israeli HBofL scholars have found any evidence. So we have confusion both with chronology and geography– when and where did she join the HBofL if she ever did?