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BILLINGTON, Mrs. (Elizbeth). Memoirs of Mrs. Billington, From Her Birth: containing a variety of matter, ludicrous, theatrical, musical and......with copies of several original letters, now in the possession of the publisher, written by Mrs. Billington, to her mother, the late Mrs. Weichsel: a dedication; and a prefatory address.
London: Printed for James Ridgway..., 1792. First edition. Tall 8vo., full contemporary tan calf, leather spine label, inner dentelles gilt, (6), xv, (1), 78pp. With an engraved frontispiece. Lacking the half title and final blank, light wear to the spine ends but in fact a near fine copy.
Elizabeth Weichsel Billington [c.1768-1818] soprano. Born into a musical family in Germany, Elizabeth took voice lessons with J.C. Bach and keyboard with J.S. Schroeter. She went on to become one of the leading soprano soloists in England, performing under her married name, Billington. She toured extensively performing in major theatres throughout Europe. She also composed two sets of sonatas which "demonstrate an impressive understanding of musical intricacies, a judgement later reflected in Haydn's calling her a great genius." Although she attempted to block publication of these "Memoirs" she failed to do so and her personal life was exposed. The book caused a minor sensation and she fled to Italy to escape the embarrassment, returning to England in 1801.