Jenny Lind Essay
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Jenny Lind & The Clipper Nightingale
The Cast of Characters
Update: Jenny Returns to America
Singer Jenny Lind
There once was a beautiful Swedish singer , who sang like a nightingale, people said. She was a bit more beautiful in her publicity paintings, perhaps, than in real life, but it was the 19th century, a time before TV.

PT Barnum

Showman PT Barnum brought Jenny Lind to the USA amid a flurry of publicity/ Her name became a househould word quickly. .

Clipper Ship Nightingale

Meanwhile one of Portsmouth, NH's grandest clipper ships, The Nighingale was launched in 1851. It may have been named after Swedish Nightingale Jenny Lind, then touring the USA. In her honor, some believe, a figurehead of Lind was attached to the ship while in Boston the very week she was performing there.

Jenny Lind Figurehead

This figurehead, possibly of Jenny Lind, found its way to a farm in Sweden where it was used as a scarecrow to frrighten birds, then left in a hayloft for a century until rediscovered in 1994 by Karl-Eric Svardskof. 

Karl-Eric Svardskog

Karl-Eric Svardskog, a Swedish antiques dealer discovered the figurehead in the barn. He researched a number of ships named The Nightingale, but only one had put up for repairs in Scandanvia, not far from where the figurehead was found. In his new book, Svardskog theorizes that the Lind figurehead was removed from the clipper just before the ship was lost at sea. He plans to bring the carving in an historic return visit to the Nightingale home port of Portsmouth, NH.  

CREDITS: All photos courtesy of Peter Randall publishing and the Portsmouth Marine Society from the book Jenny Lind and the Clipper Nightingale by Karl-Eric Svardskog, 2001. 

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UPDATE: June 2001
Jenny Finally Returns to America

In mid-June 2001, the supposed figurehead of Jenny Lind at last arrived in the Port City. Here she stands between two portraits at the Portsmouth Athenaeum after being uncrated from her journey from Sweden where the statue has been for over a century. 

Peter Randall

Publisher Peter Randall sits near a display of his latest book in which Svardskog tells the story of the Jenny Lind figurehead. The book is a well illustrated account of the author's intense research in support of his theory that the figurehead once belonged to a Piscataqua clipper ship.




Author Svardskog and a group of roadies move the heavy figurehead in her traveling container in 90 degree heat. Here she is entering the Portsmouth Music Hall, the venue the real Jenny snubbed during her 1851 American tour.

During a reception at the Athenaeum, Svardskog takes another glance at his mystery lady. "She haunts me," the author told "She is like a ghost."

Color photos by J. Dennis Robinson

Read:: Swedish Singer Was Portsmouth Figurehead
For more Seacoast mairitime stories visit The Shipyard
Copyright 2001

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