When Romeo and Juliet Goes Wrong!




1890s, shows  in the lower right corner of the Customs Hall , with the market hall and Bradburn Opera House in middle and background. Photo from Peterborough’s Glorious Years



November 1890–Miss Mather’s MISTAKE — Almonte Gazette

Peterborough, Sept. 27 1890—The presentation of Romeo and Juliet in Bradbum’s Opera House last evening by Canadian actress Miss Margaret Mather and her company very nearly resulted in a real tragedy that would have robbed the stage of one of its bright ornaments.

The trick dagger which Miss Mather used in the last scene had been stolen at Kingston, and last night she used a sharp dagger belonging to one of the company. In the intensity of her zeal in acting she forgot about the change in the weapons, and when she rose in anguish from the prostrate form of the poisoned Romeo she plunged the dagger into her breast. The sharp point of the weapon went through her corsets and pierced the flesh a little below the heart.



Photos from Google Image and Wikipedia

Despite the pain and bleeding, however, they finished the scene amid their plaudits of the audience, who were unaware that any real pain was suffered. A member of the company in the wing heard Miss Mather give sharp cry when she stabbed herself with the dagger, and knew that something was wrong. They waited anxiously until the curtain dropped, and hurried to her. The wound was bleeding freely, and her clothes were saturated with blood. She was carried, half-fainting, to the dressing room, where Dr. Yelland dressed the wound. Fortunately the wound, although painful, was not serious, the corsets having arrested the force of the blow ; otherwise the Juliet of the evening would really have died from a dagger in her own hands.

Eight years later Margaret suffered from a chronic illness and died April 7, 1898 in Charleston, West Virginia. She was in performance of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline and fell unconscious during the performance, dying that evening. Margaret was buried in a white gown from her role as Juliet on Easter Sunday.


Author’s note-Doing research I found Margaret’s bio along with the fact that she really did exist and died while performing on stage. Listening to Adagio while I typed this I cried.  Tears do honor  human nature.  Researching history  gives me so much emotional interaction now that I never had before or ever thought I did.



From the Illustrated American Volume 9

Margaret Mather


Visit the Peterborough Historical Society’s page

Related Reading:

Death by Corset? Bring Out Your Dead and Other Notions!


About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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