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Ann Julia Hatton, née Kemble, was born in Worcester, England, to a large theatrical family. Her father Roger Kemble was a strolling player and manager of the Warwickshire Company of Comedians, and her mother Sarah Ward was an actress. Her older sister was the famous actress Sarah Siddons; her brother John Philip Kemble also became a well-known actor. Ann was apprenticed to a mantua maker as a teenager. In 1783, at age 19, she married a man named Curtis, another actor, but then discovered that he was already married. She was left penniless and may have worked in a brothel to survive. In 1792, she married William Hatton, and a year later the couple went to the USA. She wrote the libretto for the opera Tammany: The Indian Chief, which was performed on Broadway to tremendous popular acclaim. It was the first known libretto written by a woman in America. By 1799, the couple had returned to Britain, and settled at Swansea, south Wales. There they ran a bathing-house and lodgings near the seashore until William's death in 1806. Ann ran a dancing school for a few years, but turned again to writing. Between 1810 and 1831 she produced poetry, short stories, and some 15 romance and gothic novels under the pseudonym "Ann of Swansea." They were extremely popular in her day.
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