Name: Elizabeth Harper
Play by: Saffron Burrows
Nickname: William Bullock (pen name)
At average height, with a small but impressive frame, Elizabeth does not immediately stand out in a crowd. She has long brown hair and skin slightly more tanned than is the fashion. Her facial features are sharp and defined, bringing extra severity when she frowns but also a powerful smile when she wishes it. Her hands are rougher than one would expect due to a lifetime of using them in musicianship and composition.
Elizabeth carries herself with both a pleasant demeanor and a will or iron. She is not outgoing, but she does not avoid others; she prefers to be in small groups, and keeps a circle of a few close friends. Family is important to her, as is music, the way to Elizabeth’s heart is through her ears. She is stubborn and just a bit too proud, daring and just a little vulnerable. Most of all, she is secure in who she is.
To see the entire world. To leave behind her own legacy, musical and otherwise.
Elizabeth’s course has been charted since before her birth. She comes from a long line of instrument makers, composers, and entertainers. She was named after the French composer Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre, one of a few female composers of that time period (the Baroque). Her parents hoped she would become one such composer, and she did.
She completed her first composition, a harpsichord sonata, at seventeen years old. But she had only the backing of her family - a prominent one in eighteenth-century England, but at the time she needed the ear of the nobility or the clergy. The former found her, a girl musical prodigy, a curiosity at best, and the clergy held her works in disdain, as they were too secular, too rich in textures, far too indulgent to be decent. While composers were less dependent on the church for support by that time, their condemnation of her music did not help her reputation. Fortunately many of the nobles her family built instruments for chose to support her, if only for the novelty of having another little woman composer, and she was invited to perform for the court several times. She began to experiment with other instruments, and eventually chose the cello, which was at the beginning of its popularity, as her primary instrument.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth married Percival Wilkinson, a writer and dramatist who was similarly in favor with the English court. She began to publish some pieces of music under her own name and some as “William Bullock,” to see whether those would be more successful. She also began to travel, often with Percy, and over the years she saw much of Western Europe. She was quite happy with her life, and she had no shortage of inspiration.
Percy passed away due to illness a few years into their marriage, leaving a vast hole in Elizabeth’s life. For a while, she became a recluse, spending all her time trying to translate her pain and her emotions into music. Finally, at the urging of her parents and friends, she began to travel again, farther and farther from home, in search of new experiences and fresh inspiration. She has recently arrived in Venice for an extended stay.