Matilda Heron was a popular American actress of the mid-1800s. She was born near Londonderry, Ireland, on December 1, 1830, and her family moved to Philadelphia in her early childhood.

Her reputation was founded almost solely on her adaptation and starring role in Camille, or "the Fate of a Coquette," a French play by Alexandre Dumas about a courtesan who dies of consumption (or tuberculosis) in her lover's arms. The first showing of Heron's Camille took place in 1857 at Wallack's Theatre in New York City.

Heron's adaptation was significant because it was the first American version of the script that was not sanitized to remove ``morally objectionable'' elements. She translated it directly, having seen a production of the original in Paris.

The other reason that Heron's Camille is interesting is her acting; she embraced a very earthy, direct style (unlike most of her contemporaries, who were classically trained and restrained). When Camille was wracked by a hacking cough, Heron accepted that fully, hacking and coughing very noisily. She lacked finesse, but made up for that with a passion for the role that endeared her to audiences and set the stage for many overactors in the future.

In 1857, she married a German musician named Robert Stoepel, only to seperate from him in 1861. She also bore a daughter named Bijou; Matilda's final public performance, in the role of Medea, took place in April 1876 "on the occasion of her daughter's benefit" 1. She died March 7, 1877, in New York City, having spent most of her later life in obscurity, teaching acting.

1, from which much of the other information was taken, although not quoted directly.

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