Partner Christabel Marshall and Clare Atwood, buried together
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Edith "Edy" Ailsa Geraldine Craig (9 December 1869 – 27 March 1947) was a prolific theatre director, producer, costume designer and early pioneer of the women's suffrage movement in England. Craig appears as the pageant producer Miss La Trobe in Between the Acts (1941) by Virginia Woolf. In 1915 Christopher St. John published, anonymously, a semi-autobiographical novel, Hungerheart, in which she appears as John and Edith as Sally.
Edy Craig lived together with Christopher St. John for 48 years, from 1899 until Craig's death in 1947, with Clare "Tony" Atwood joining them from 1916. Edy Craig and Christopher St. John were also active in the WSPU, committing militant acts and contributing to propaganda through plays such as Votes for Women (1909). Cicely Hamilton’s own closest friends in the suffrage network were Edy (Edith) Craig and Christopher St John (Christabel Marshall), who lived together, and then later in another 30-year-long ménage à trois with Tony (Clare) Atwood, a painter of some distinction, a trio known to their friends as ‘Edy and the boys’. The adopted male names were accompanied by masculine dress: ‘Miss Craig,’ wrote Virginia Woolf in her diary, ‘is a rosy, ruddy “personage” in white waistcoat, with black bow tie & gold chain loosely knotted.’ Virginia Woolf’s own lover, Vita Sackville-West, with whom St John was besotted, described Edy Craig as ‘the most tearing old lesbian’. She compared her to Radclyffe Hall, one half of the most celebrated public lesbian couple of the 20th century, and a famous masculine dresser. Radclyffe Hall and her lover, Una Troubridge, were close friends of Edy and the boys, and of Cicely Hamilton.
Craig was the daughter of actress Ellen Terry and the progressive English architect-designer Edward William Godwin, and the sister of theatre practitioner Edward Gordon Craig.
As a lesbian, an active campaigner for women's suffrage, and a woman working as a theatre director and producer, Edith Craig has been recovered by feminist scholars as well as theatre historians. Craig lived in a ménage à trois with the dramatist Christabel Marshall and the artist Clare 'Tony' Atwood from 1916 until her death.
The composer Martin Shaw proposed to Craig in 1903, and she accepted. However, the marriage was prevented by Ellen Terry, out of jealousy for her daughter's affection, and by Christabel Marshall, who wrote under the pseudonym Christopher St. John, with whom she lived from 1899 until they were joined in 1916 by the artist Clare 'Tony' Atwood, living in a ménage à trois until Craig's death in 1947. Her lesbian lifestyle was looked down upon by her family. Her brother Edward said Edith's sexuality was a result of her "hatred of men, initiated by the hatred of her father".
Eleanor Rathbone, Nina Boyle, Marian Reeves, Elsa Gye, Winifred Holtby, Alison Neilans, Edith Craig, Sylvia Pankhurst, and Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence were among the feminists who shared membership in the Myra Sadd Brown Memorial Library, which suggests that these women held similar intellectual, political and literary interests.
Craig became involved in several books about her mother and George Bernard Shaw which created a rift in the relationship with her brother, who asked Craig not to write about their mother, and specifically not to share the details of the family's innermost problems. Edward Gordon Craig's book Ellen Terry and her Secret Self (1931) explicitly objected to Ellen Terry and Bernard Shaw: a Correspondence (1931) edited by Christopher St. John. In 1932 Craig co-edited with St. John Ellen Terry's Memoirs in which she replied to her brother's representation of their mother. Also in 1932 Craig adopted Ruby Chelta Craig. Craig was reconciled with her brother some time before her death.
On the death of her mother Craig committed her life to preserving her mother's legacy. She opened the family home, Smallhythe Place in Kent, England to the public. From 1939 she was supported in running the house by the National Trust. On her death she left Smallhythe Place to the National Trust as a memorial to her mother. Craig died of coronary thrombosis and chronic myocarditis on 27 March 1947 at Priest's House, Smallhythe Place while planning a Shakespeare festival in honour of her mother. Her body was cremated. Marshall and Atwood are buried alongside each other at St John the Baptist's Church, Small Hythe. Craig's ashes were supposed to be buried there as well, but at the time of Marshall and Atwood's deaths, the ashes got lost and a memorial was placed in the cemetery instead.
Edith Craig suffered from acute arthritis especially in her hands. In her younger days, this painful condition prevented her from becoming a professional musician. She attended the Royal Academy of Music and held a certificate in piano from Trinity College. In her later years, after the death of her mother, Craig dictated her memoirs to her friend Vera Holme, known as Jacko. Jacko wrote them down in a quarto notebook that was "lost in an attic" for decades and then sold to Ann Rachlin in 1978. They included Craig's reminiscences of her childhood and life with her mother, Edward Gordon Craig and Henry Irving. Rachlin published them in her book Edy was a Lady in 2011.
Virginia Woolf is said to have used Edith Craig as a model for the character of Miss LaTrobe in her novel Between the Acts (1941).
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