Meet the Janes

Thu 23 Aug

As the saying goes, behind every great man stands a woman rolling her eyes... Let's take a look at the woman behind the celebrated artist William Hogarth – his wife, Jane – and the actresses bringing her to life in our upcoming production of Hogarth's Progress


Ruby Bentall

Ruby is no stranger to period dramas, having spent a lot of time on the Cornwall coast playing Verity in Poldark and starring in three series of Lark Rise to Candleford as Minnie Mude. 

This time, she will be transported to Georgian London to play Hogarth's new wife Jane in the first play of our double-bill: The Art of Success

Ruby also has links to Kingston-upon-Thames. Her great uncle Frank Bentall opened a drapery shop in 1867, which later developed into the department store Bentalls.



Susannah Harker

Susannah Harker earned a BAFTA nomination for her role as Mattie Horan in the BBC's acclaimed series House of Cards

She is perhaps best known for her role as Jane Bennett in the much-loved BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, alongside Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. 

This time, Susannah will portray another Jane in the world premiere of The Taste of the Town alongside Keith Allen as the older Hogarth. Read on to find out more about Mrs Hogarth...



  • Jane Hogarth was the daughter of English painter Sir James Thornhill. His works include paintings inside the dome of St Paul's Cathedral and the Painted Hall at Royal Hospital, Greenwich. 
  • Jane married William Hogarth when he was a student at her father's academy. The pair wed, much to Thornhill's horror, and their elopement was considered to be one of the most romantic stories of the Georgian era.
  • The couple were huge supporters of London's Foundling Hospital, a home for vulnerable and deserted children. The pair welcomed many of the hospital's children into their home and they were all named Jane or Billy in their honour. Their love for the hospital was illustrated in William's portrait of the hospital's founder, Thomas Coram. 
  • The Hogarths never had any children of their own. Michael Dean suspects in his fictional work I, Hogarth that William had syphilis and therefore couldn't procreate, although in the Georgian era the blame would have landed with Jane. 
  • It is believed that Jane modelled for William in 1761 when he was painting Sigismunda Mourning Over the Heart of Guiscardo, a scene from novella Decameron by Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio. William regarded the oil painting as a masterpiece, but it received much ridicule and critics deemed the depiction of a wife tenderly caressing her husband's bloody heart grotesque.


Ruby Bentall will also play Nancy/Mrs Ryott in The Taste of the Town and Susannah Harker will play Queen Caroline in The Art of Success

Both plays together form the double-bill Hogarth's Progress, which runs at the Rose from Thu 13 Sep – Sun 21 Oct. Each play can be seen as a single performance or enjoyed together, either over different days or as a thrilling all-day theatrical experience. To find out more, click here

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