Lydia Thompson (1838-1908)

William R. Howell

Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation

Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation
Pleasantville, United States

Born in Britain, Lydia Thompson succeeded as a dancer, comedian, director, and producer. In London she became a leading burlesque actress at age 13. In 1868 Thompson formed her notorious company, the British Blondes, and introduced burlesque to the U.S. Although Americans went wild for the British Blondes, Thompson drew savage criticism for the show’s bawdiness. When Chicago Times’ owner Wilbur Story blasted the troupe for indecency, Thompson and her husband set upon Story and horsewhipped him. Though Thompson was arrested and fined, she insisted that it was worth every penny.


  • Title: Lydia Thompson (1838-1908)
  • Creator: William R. Howell
  • Location: New York, New York
  • Physical Dimensions: Carte-de-visite (albumen), 4" x 2 1/2"
  • Provenance: The Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation
  • Subject Keywords: Theater
  • Type: Photograph
  • Date: ca. 1869

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