22 Barkston Gardens, Earls Court, London SW5 0ES, Regno Unito
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Dame Alice Ellen Terry,
GBE (27 February 1847
– 21 July 1928), known professionally as Ellen Terry,
was an English actress who became the leading
Shakespearean actress in Britain.
Born into a
family of actors, Terry began performing as a child, acting in Shakespeare
plays in London, and toured throughout the British provinces in her teens. At
16 she married the 46-year-old artist
George Frederic Watts, but they separated within a year. She soon returned
to the stage but began a relationship with the architect
Edward William Godwin and retired from the stage for six years. She
resumed acting in 1874 and was immediately acclaimed for her portrayal of
roles in Shakespeare and other classics.
In 1878 she joined
Henry Irving's company as his leading lady, and for more than the next two
decades she was considered the leading Shakespearean and comic actress in
Britain. Two of her most famous roles were Portia in
The Merchant of Venice and Beatrice in
Much Ado About Nothing. She and Irving also toured with great success
in America and Britain.
In 1903 Terry took over management of London's
Imperial Theatre, focusing on the plays of
George Bernard Shaw and
Henrik Ibsen. The venture was a financial failure, and Terry turned to
touring and lecturing. She continued to find success on stage until 1920,
while also appearing in films from 1916 to 1922. Her career lasted nearly
On 21 July 1928, Terry died of a
cerebral haemorrhage at her home at
Smallhythe Place, near
Kent, aged 81. Her son Edward later recalled, "Mother looked 30 years old ...
a young beautiful woman lay on the bed, like Juliet on her bier".
Margaret Winser created a death mask.
Terry was cremated at Golders Green, Middlesex. Her ashes are kept in a silver
chalice on the right side of the
the actors' church,
St Paul's, Covent Garden, London, where a memorial tablet was unveiled by
After her death, the Ellen Terry Memorial Museum was founded by
Edith Craig in her mother's memory at Smallhythe Place, an early 16th-century
house that she bought at the turn of the 20th century.
The museum was taken over by the
National Trust in 1939.
St. Paul's Church, London
Craig became a theatre director, producer, costume designer, and an early
pioneer of the women's
movement in England. Terry's son,
Edward Gordon Craig, became an actor, scenery and effects designer,
illustrator, and director; he also founded the Gordon Craig School for the Art
of the Theatre in
Italy, in 1913. Her grandnephew was the actor
Craig is Terry's great granddaughter.
BACK TO HOME PAGE
Birth certificate is dated 1847
Archived 6 August 2007 at the
- she had reversed her
given names by the time of her first marriage
Biography and reviews of Terry
Biography of Terry at the Stage Beauty website
- Booth, Michael R.
"Terry, Dame Ellen Alice (1847–1928)", Oxford Dictionary of
National Biography, Oxford University Press, September 2004; online
edn, January 2008, accessed 4 January 2010
- Hartnoll, pp. 815–17.
Obituary, Time Magazine, 1 September 1930
- The photograph of Terry
as Mamillius and
Kean as Leontes was taken by
- Hartnoll, p. 816.
Terry Biography at Answers.com
Profile of Terry by Amanda Hodges
Archived 17 May 2007 at the
Description of the Terry and Irving partnership and link to further
information about Terry
Archived 4 May 2005 at the
Information from Schoolnet.com
Archived 30 October 2007 at the
- The Times, 10
April 1879, p. 8, col. B
- "Miss Ellen Terry's
The Era, 23 May 1880, p. 6
"Sullivan's incidental music to Shakespeare's Macbeth, The
Gilbert and Sullivan Archive, 28 January 2005, accessed 21 August 2016;
"Mendelssohnian charm: Sir Arthur Sullivan's Macbeth and The
Tempest", PlanetHugill.com, 15 August 2016. See also
"A flyaway success: Victorian dress made from 1,000 beetle wings restored
at a cost of £50,000". The Daily Mail, 16 March 2011
Review and drawings of Henry VIII, Punch magazine, Vol.
102, 16 January 1892, p. 33
Information about King Arthur including an image of the program
Archived 20 July 2008 at the
American Theatre Guide entry
"Music and the Drama: Irving's Visit", The Week: a Canadian journal
of politics, literature, science and arts, 28 February 1884, vol. 1,
issue 13, p. 204, accessed 27 April 2013
- Holroyd, p. ?
- Irving, John H. B.
"Quest for the Missing Letters"
Archived 24 December 2011 at the
Wayback Machine., The Irving Society; accessed 12 October 2011
Information about Terry's pets and residences
- Cockin, Katharine.
Edith Craig (1869–1947): Dramatic Lives Cassell (1998).
Biography of Terry BBC Coventry
- Cockin (2015), p. 164
- Cockin (2001), pp. 7,
27-28, 46 and 48–50
Recordings for the Victor Talking Machine Co.
Archived 27 September 2007 at the
Information from Findagrave.com
- Irving, John H. B.
"Quest for Missing Ellen Terry Letters", The Irving Society; accessed
5 March 2016.
Archived 7 April 2014 at the
- Holroyd, pp. 508–509
"National Portrait Gallery, Death-mask of Ellen Terry".
Retrieved 4 November 2017.
- Wilson, Scott.
Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons,
3d ed.: 2. McFarland & Company (2016)
"The Gielgud-Terry Family Tree", Gielgud, John (with John Miller).
An Actor and His Time, p. 180, Legends Series, Hal Leonard
- Jansen-Gruber, Marya.
"The Authors and Illustrators – Profiles: Helen Craig", Through The
Looking Glass Children’s Book Reviews website; accessed 1 April 2014
Law, Jonathan (2013).
The Methuen Drama Dictionary of the Theatre. A&C Black.
"Charles Terry". Ancestry.
Retrieved 21 February 2016.
- Roy, Donald.
"Neilson, Julia Emilie (1868–1957)", Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 7 January 2010
"Edward William Godwin". The Elmbridge Hundred.
Retrieved 21 February 2016.