Jenkins, Florence Foster
- Dennis Wepman
Jenkins, Florence Foster (1868–1944), singer, was born Narcissa Florence Foster in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Charles Dorrance Foster, a lawyer, banker, and member of the Pennsylvania legislature, and Mary Jane Hoagland. She showed an early taste for music and received piano lessons, but her parents refused to support her desire to study abroad, according to her longtime accompanist Cosmé McMoon, because of the “excruciating quality of her voice.” Around 1885, determined to pursue a career as a soprano, she left home and married Francis Thornton Jenkins, a Philadelphia physician sixteen years her senior. The couple had no children and were divorced in 1902. Left unprovided for by her husband and cut off from support by her wealthy father, Jenkins made a bare living as a piano teacher. Around 1908 St. Clair Bayfield (1875–1967), an actor well connected in New York theater circles, became her manager; they lived together from that year until her death, and he was heir to her estate....