Jenny Lind & The Clipper Nightingale
The Cast of Characters
Update: Jenny Returns to America
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.
Showman PT Barnum
brought Jenny Lind to the USA amid a flurry of publicity/
Her name became a househould word quickly. .
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.
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.
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,
Jenny Finally Returns to
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.
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
During a reception at the Athenaeum, Svardskog takes
another glance at his mystery lady. "She haunts me," the author told
SeacoastNH.com. "She is like a ghost." Color photos by J. Dennis Robinson
Singer Was Portsmouth Figurehead
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