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the learned ladies

rediscovering forgotten women authors and composers

We remember Amy Beach, Carrie Jacobs-Bond, Ethyl Smith, Harriet Ware, and Mildred Hill, Amelia B. Welty, Virginia French, Mary E. Bryan, Mary Stanly Bunce Palmer, and others.

a musical webseries

“The Learned Ladies” is a new musical internet series featuring stories, songs, poems and essays from obscure women composers and forgotten women authors of the past. 

Ann Reeves Jarvis

Award-winning actress Elise Dewsberry plays southern belle Ann Reeves Jarvis as she welcomes us into her pre-Civil-War music room, introducing us to women authors and composers, like an antebellum “Masterpiece Theatre.” Mrs. Jarvis first tells us a little about the featured woman author’s background and literary bent, and then regales us with a reading, followed by a song.

Ann Reeves Jarvis

Award-winning actress Elise Dewsberry plays southern belle Ann Reeves Jarvis as she welcomes us into her pre-Civil-War music room, introducing us to women authors and composers, like an antebellum “Masterpiece Theatre.” Mrs. Jarvis first tells us a little about the featured woman author’s background and literary bent, and then regales us with a reading, followed by a song.

Amy Beach

The first season of “The Learned Ladies” features the songs of beloved American composer, Amy Beach, including “Empress of the Night,” “Le Secret,” and the haunted story of poor jilted “Anita.”

Amy Beach

The first season of “The Learned Ladies” features the songs of beloved American composer, Amy Beach, including “Empress of the Night,” “Le Secret,” and the haunted story of poor jilted “Anita.”

“It’s wonderful being able to bring these stories and songs to life. The writing is amazing!  Literate, funny, touching…sometimes spooky.  We’re discovering many beautiful lost gems.”

Elise Dewsberry

produced by New Musicals Inc.

The series is produced by New Musicals Inc., as part of their ongoing exploration of short musical theatre content for the internet.  NMI offers workshops, classes, and production opportunities for writers of new musicals.

Virginia French and others

The authors include Amelia B. Welty, Virginia French, Mary E. Bryan, Mary Stanly Bunce Palmer, and others.  Their stories and poems traverse a wild range variety of topics, from shipwrecks, haunted houses, deaths of loved ones, to chilling vampire stories.

Subsequent seasons will continue to feature women writers and composers, such as the Women of New England, or the astounding cotton-mill women who founded their own literary magazine in the late 1800’s, and beloved-but-forgotten composers such as Carrie Jacobs-Bond, Ethyl Smith, Harriet Ware, and Mildred Hill (who wrote the tune for “Happy Birthday”, and left behind dozens of songs in manuscript).

Virginia French and others

The authors include Amelia B. Welty, Virginia French, Mary E. Bryan, Mary Stanly Bunce Palmer, and others.  Their stories and poems traverse a wild range variety of topics, from shipwrecks, haunted houses, deaths of loved ones, to chilling vampire stories.

Subsequent seasons will continue to feature women writers and composers, such as the Women of New England, or the astounding cotton-mill women who founded their own literary magazine in the late 1800’s, and beloved-but-forgotten composers such as Carrie Jacobs-Bond, Ethyl Smith, Harriet Ware, and Mildred Hill (who wrote the tune for “Happy Birthday”, and left behind dozens of songs in manuscript).

Episode One - Mary Virginia Terhune

In the first episode, we meet Mary Virginia Terhune, who shocked her friends and family by publishing secretly under a pseudonym.  Then we hear Amy Beach’s moving song which tells the story of Anita, jilted by the man she trusted with her life and heart.

Elise Dewsberry as Ann Reeves Jarvis in the musical webseries “The Learned Ladies.”

Jane Tandy Hardin Cross

Excerpts from the intimate diary of Jane Tandy Hardin Cross, who writes about a friend’s heartbreaking loss of a child, and how the women of the time dealt with grief.  The episode concludes with Amy Beach’s powerful song, “Ecstasy,” which examines the balance between storm and sunshine.

Catherine Anne Warfield

This episode’s story is one of our favorites of the season.  It’s an excerpt from a wonderful vampire novel written by Catherine Anne Warfield, who was the daughter of the Mississippi Territory’s Secretary of State, Major Nathaniel Ware.  In the excerpt, a young woman is asked by her grandfather to give up some of her blood.  That’s followed by Amy Beach’s song, “Haste O Beloved,” which contemplates whether love can cross over the threshold of death (and back again).

Eleanor Percy Lee

This episode features a dramatic, spooky poem by Eleanor Percy Lee about a haunted house, followed by the passionate song “Forget Me Not” about a woman trying to reach the spirits of the dead.