The Many Lives of a Scottish Señora

Patricia Cleveland-Peck tells the story of Fanny Calderón de la Barca and her life as an author, ambassador’s wife and governess to the Spanish royal family.

Fanny get your gun: Calderón de la Barca, who witnessed two revolutions in Mexico, painted by an unknown artist. Berry Hill Trust'Tonight there are tableaux at Señora Calderón's where I shall probably be'

So wrote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on May 6th, 1839 when visiting Washington. The señora to whom he referred was Frances, known as Fanny, wife of the Spanish minister to the US, Angel Calderón de la Barca, whom she had married the year before. A popular hostess, in her thirties she was attractive, intelligent, spirited, fluent in at least three languages and not only well read but also a published author. On this spring evening she would undoubtedly have been delighted to receive the poet at one of her soirées but probably not unduly impressed, for her circle already included many of the most distinguished international diplomats, intellectuals and literary figures of the day.

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