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Author Topic: Ellen Terry. Actress. 1847-1928  (Read 2094 times)

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Ellen Terry. Actress. 1847-1928
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2016, 17:44:07 »
Alice Ellen Terry GBE. Born Coventry 27th February 1847. Died 21st July 1928 at her home at Smallhythe, Kent.

Born into a family of actors, Terry began performing as a nine-year old, her first appearance being as 'Mammilious' in Shakespear's 'The Winters Tale' at London's Princess Theatre. She worked in London and toured the British provinces until, at nearly 17, she married the artist George F Watts, aged 46. The marriage lasted less than a year and she returned to the stage.

She then began a relationship with the architect Edward W Godwin with whom she had two children. They parted in 1875 and Terry resumed acting.

In 1878 she married the actor Charles Kelly, the couple parting in 1881. In 1878 Terry joined Henry Irving's Company at the London Lyceum as his leading lady. For the next 24 years she was considered the leading Shakespearean actress in Britain. In 1883 she made her American debut. When Irving's tenure at the Lyceum ended in 1902, Terry took over the management of London's Imperial Theatre, but this was a commerial failure and she returned to touring and lecturing. In March 1907, during a tour of America, she married her co-star, American James Carew, 30 years her junior, the couple separating after two years.

Ellen continued to find acting success until she retired in 1922. Between 1918 and 1922 she also appeared in seven films.
In 1925 she was appointed Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire.

In 1900 Terry had moved from London to Kent, buying a house at Smallhythe near Tenterden. Here she died on the 21st July 1928, aged 81. She was cremated and her ashes rest in a silver chalice in the chancel of the Actor's Church, St Paul's, Covent Garden, London.

The Ellen Terry Memorial Memorial Museum was founded by her daughter Edith Craig at her mothers house at Smallhythe. The house was taken over by the National Trust in 1947.

Ellen Terry's life at Smallhythe


1. Ellen Terry. Reproduced courtesy of Don Gillan (Copyright),

2. Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth 1889 painting by John Singer Sargent.
© Tate (2016) available under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0) Unported)
For photos of the dress see


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