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Frances Eleanor Jarman

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Frances Jarman

Other names
Ellen Ternan

Frances Eleanor Jarman

October, 1803?

February 1873, Oxford, United Kingdom

Frances Eleanor Jarman (October, 1803? – February, 1873) was a British actress who appeared in Ireland, Scotland, England, America and Canada. She travelled with Charles Dickens while her daughter was his mistress. Another of her daughters married the novelist Thomas Adolphus Trollope.


Jarman was born in Hull in 1803. Her mother was a successful actress and after her marriage she continued to appear and from 1812 she appeared with her daughter. Her father, John Jarman, had been trained as a lawyer, but he worked in Tate Wilkinson's Yorkshire acting company as a prompter whilst his wife appeared in major roles as Maria Errington before her marriage even though her maiden name was Mottershed.

Jarman was almost immediately part of the cast and she appeared in one role before she was christened. She continued to be employed in juvenile roles.

Whilst she was appearing in Edinburgh she met an Irish actor named Thomas Lawless Ternan and they were married in 1834. They set off immediately on a long working honeymoon and in 1835 she was on a three-year tour of cities in Canada and the United States. There she gave birth to a daughter Frances Eleanor Ternan on board a paddle steamer in Delaware Bay. According to Tom Ternan the tour was a great success making £500 in two nights in Boston. The Tarnans returned to Britain where she found work in major cities before appearing at Drury Lane in 1837 to 1838. The Tarnans' daughters appeared as "Infant Phenomena" on the stage. Thomas Ternan became the manager of the Theatre Royal in Newcastle upon Tyne where his wife became the lead actress and all of his daughters acted on the stage. Thomas Ternan had a mental breakdown in 1844 and he lived for two years in an asylum in Bethnal Green before he died in 1846.

In 1865 Charles Dickens was abroad whilst writing Our Mutual Friend with his mistress Ellen Ternan. Ellen was accompanied by her mother. Dickens was travelling with Ellen Ternan but this was not public knowledge although he seemed to show no effort to disguise his relationship with her on the ferry home. Dickens had booked three first-class tickets and they boarded the train for London. During the journey there was the Staplehurst rail crash when the train was derailed and some carriages ended up in the river and ten people were killed. Their carriage came close to falling but remained in an unstable condition. Dickens was involved with rescuing several passengers including the Ternans. Dickens made substantial efforts not to give evidence at the following enquiry as he wanted to keep his travelling companion's identity secret. Dickens talks of this incident at the end of Our Mutual Friend, but again he fails to mention the full list of who he was travelling with.

Jarman died in Oxford in February, 1873. Her daughter Maria was a journalist, her daughter Frances was a novelist and Ellen is mentioned above.


Frances Eleanor Jarman Wikipedia

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