Nina Mardon, English-born German actress and champion of women’s rights

November 27, 2014

Nina Mardon (1873-1946), English-born German actress and champion of women’s rights, in the role of Iphigenia in Goethe’s Iphigenia in Tauris at the National Theatre, Mannheim, 1897
(cabinet photo: Hubert Lill, Mannheim, 1897)

‘MISS NINA CARNEGIE MARDON, a present taking the rôle of Kriemhilde in Hebbels Nibelungen, is a young English girl who, though only twenty-three years of age, has already achieved a high measure of success in what are called in Germany ”classical heroine” parts. This success is the more remarkable when it is taken into consideration that Miss Mardon had never set her foot on German soil until after she had reached her thirteenth birthday, and at that time she was totally unacquainted with the language. Her industry however, was so great that, aided by her exceptional talents, she soon completely identified herself with the tongue of Goethe and Schiller, and the public have accepted the brilliant young interpreter of all that is finest in German literature as a native of the Fatherland. Miss Mardon’s present engagement at Mannheim is a very important one. The Grand Ducal Theatre plays all the year round, with the exception of the months of July and August; and as the same piece is never given more than three or four times during the season the amount of work required from the select few who form the ”company” would strike terror into the heart of the average English actress. Since October 1st [1897] Miss Mardon has played Hermione in A Winter’s Tale, Viola in Twelfth Night, Goneril in King Lear, Leonore d’Este in Torquato Tasso, Iphigenia in the play of the same name, and, as already mentioned, Kriemhilde in the Nibelungen. Though she has only been on the stage for six years, Miss Mardon has fulfilled long engagements at the Court Theatres of Altenburg and of Meiningen. In the latter duchy she was especially successful in attracting the notice and praise of the Grand Duke, who is deservedly acknowledged one of the finest dramatic critics of the age.’
(Black & White, London, Saturday, 12 February 1898, pp. 208 and 209)

‘Frauline Nina Mardon, the well known German actress, recently addressed a meeting of the Rechts-Schutz-Verine, in Berlin, on the subject of ”The Stage as a Profession for Women,” during which she made the following reference to prevailing conditions on the German stage: ”While women’s societies are constantly striving to obtain a high moral standard in every branch of women’s work, and are endeavoring to better the conditions of labor for factory hands, home workers, etc., the actress has remained outside the sphere of interest. The salary an actress receives in Germany is, as a rule, very much less in proportion to that given to an actor. Besides which she is bound by a special paragraph in her contract to provide all necessary stage costumes, historical and modern, while the actor is provided by the theatre with everything except modern dress. This, with very few exceptions, such as the Court Theatres of Dresden, Meiningen, Berlin, is the rule, and it has been the cause of great distress among the female members of the profession. The normal salary can never be sufficient to cover the necessary requirements. It must not be forgotten that the repertory of a German theatre is extremely varied – a different play being put on almost every night.’
(The New York Clipper, New York, Saturday, 15 July 1899, p. 383c)

* * * * * *

Nina Mardon formed a relationship with the German novelist and short story writer, Wilhelm Holzamer (1870-1907), for whom he left his wife and seven children. As Nina Fraenkel her name appears in a 1938 index of Jews whose German nationality was annulled by the Nazi Regime. She died in Lucarno, Switzerland, in 1946.


One comment

  1. Very Intresting!

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