Ebba Morman was one of the most eminent actors of her day. She performed at Stenborgs Teater and at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm in the late eighteenth century.
Ebba Morman was born in 1768. She was the daughter of Anders Morman, a footman, and his fiancée Anna Lisa Folcker. Although she was the result of a non-marital relationship her father recognised her as his daughter on her birth and admitted to being engaged to her mother, which was almost as good as being married at that time.
Ebba Morman grew up in Stockholm. In 1788, when she was 20, she married Johan Peter Brolin, an accountant for the military. It was not long before they came to lead separate lives, however, and in the spring of 1802 they got divorced. The reason given for the end of the marriage was that Brolin “had forfeited his marital rights to Mrs Ebba Jeannette Morman due to adultery”. Brolin had admitted that he had had a relationship with Sophia Dorothea Dahlberg, a maid, and that this had resulted in a child being born in 1800, a girl who died six months later.
Ebba Morman made her stage debut in 1791, performing at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in the role of Zelimer in Den bedragne Bachan. She was still credited as “Mrs Bolin” at the time. In October 1792, however, she signed a contract using the name “Ebba Jeanette de Morman”.
Her stage career was short but successful. She played a great number of different roles at Stenborgs Teater, at the Opera and at the Royal Dramatic Theatre. Some of the parts she played included the countess in Grefven av Oldbach at Stenborgs, in Rhadamist och Zenobie at the Opera, and Klytaimestra and Queen Kristina. Just a couple of months before her death she portrayed the countess Åkerkrona in Det oskyldiga bedrägeriet. She was best known for playing demonic female parts and faced competition from Fredrica Löf for tragic roles. Contemporary writings describe Ebba Morman as “tall and thin, with a long face, a pointy chin, and brownish-black eyes which burned with a sullen fire. Her pale skin looked like it was pasted onto her cheeks. Her appearance thus suited her genre, which was exclusively the diabolical one”. Ebba Morman’s most popular roles tended to be the nasty female parts, generally those of witches or poisoners. These parts took on a life of their own as she gradually succumbed to tuberculosis. Her greatest success came during the years just before her death in 1802. Her sickly face helped her to win parts although they formed part of a particular genre. The audience both “loved and hated her”.
Ebba Morman struggled for a long time with financial problems and declared herself bankrupt at Stockholm magistrates’ court on three separate occasions: in 1794, in 1796, and in 1798. She withdrew her first two declarations but her December 1798 declaration remained. The process revealed that she had been finding it hard to make ends meet for quite some time.
Ebba Morman had been in a relationship with the well-known actor Carl Schylander since the 1790s and they married barely six months after her divorce from Johan Peter Brolin. The marriage lasted just one and a half months before Ebba Morman died of tuberculosis, aged only 33. The same disease also took her husband’s life nine years later.