friends of the animals
Interred: George Angell and Emily Appleton
Note: Pioneering animal rights advocate and his advocacy partner
George Thorndike Angell (1823 – 1909) was an American lawyer, philanthropist, and advocate for the humane treatment of animals. Emily Warren Appleton (1818 – 1905) was a Boston socialite with a passionate concern about animal cruelty. Appleton was already nurturing an American anti-animal cruelty movement when she saw a letter in the Boston Daily Advertiser from George Thorndike Angell protesting animal cruelty. Within a month, with Appleton's backing, Angell incorporated the society. Appleton was excluded from executive participation in the society she helped found.* However, they continued to work together, with Appleton behind the scenes, for many years.
Historian Victoria Cain, Ph.D., hosts a brief background piece on George Angell and Emily Appleton.
One often hears the phrase, “Behind every great man there is a great woman”. While the phrase may be steeped in anachronistic societal limitations, the fact remains that women have often played pivotal roles in the achievements of famous men.
In this case, my readings about and musings on George Thorndike Angell - who is a legend - eventually led me to Emily Appleton - who has largely been forgotten. I was overjoyed to discover that she, like Angell, is also buried at Mount Auburn.
For this piece, I filmed, photographed and recorded sounds around Angell’s monument and Appleton’s grave (shared with her husband, William) over two years and four seasons.
It was a pleasure directing actor Rick Winterson in his voice performance of Angell’s letters and autobiographical passages. I made extensive use of sound effects and music to accentuate shifting moods in the storytelling.
In selecting the text for this piece, I wanted to emphasize Angell’s boyhood love of animals, rage at their mistreatment, and adroit handling of the legislative process. In the time allotted for this project, I was unable to find statements by Appleton herself. However, contemporary accounts indicate that she greatly preferred to remain in the background, out of the public eye.
The title, “Friends of the Animals”, is a play on Angell’s 1909 New York Times obituary, in which he was termed “Friend of the Animals”