Postcard of the week ending
Saturday, 4 October 2008

Ellen Terry (1847-1928), English actress,
at about the time of her Jubilee year, 1906,
when she appeared on 27 April alongside H. Beerbohm Tree
in a performance of The Merry Wives of Windsor,
His Majesty's Theatre, London

Ellen Terry

Ellen Terry

(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, circa 1906)

This real photograph postcard of Ellen Terry was published as no. 11524B in the Rotary Phonographic Series of the The Rotary Photographic Co Ltd, London, about 1906. Miss Terry's Jubilee year climaxed on 12 June 1906 with an all star gala performance at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

'London Crowds Camped Outside Theatre to Get In and Cheer Her.
'LONDON, April 27 [1906]. - Hundreds of persons camped outside His Majesty's Theatre all day to-day to obtain seats in the pit or gallery and greet Ellen Terry's appearance this evening in The Merry Wives of Windsor on the occasion of her jubilee. The arrivals commenced as early as 9 o'clock, and the line rapidly lengthened until the Haymarket resembled a huge picnic. The majority of women brought camp stools, lunch baskets, and novels.
'At the close of the performances a remarkable ovation was accorded the actress, recalling the farewell benefit to Nelly Farren. A pretty scene had been arranged for the presentation of the Playgoers' Club's silver jewel casket, and an address in commemoration of the actress's jubilee.
'Beerbohm Tree, still in his Falstaff make-up, recited an ode of congratulation, at the close of which a dove fluttered down from the flies carrying a scroll, which was taken by a dainty fairy, who presented it to the heroine of the evening. The scroll contained a rhymed response, having recited which Miss Terry shook hands with Mr. Tree, and, with great emotion, said her feelings would not allow her to express in words what she felt. Mr. Tree and a deputation of the Playgoers' Club then presented the casket, which is embellished in relief with pictures of Olympian games and places of public entertainment in Athens.
'The ceremony closed with a scene of indescribable enthusiasm.
'Miss Terry is intensely popular with the English people and it is safe to say that this popularity is chiefly due to her great personal charm. Her popularity in the United States is not much less than in England, and when a committee was formed in London to organize a fitting celebration of her jubilee British and Americans, as well as the citizens of many Continental countries, responded most heartily. The committee asked for shilling subscriptions and in a short time 30,000 shillings ($6,000) was collected. Queen Alexandra sent a diamond and ruby pendant of great value, and actors from all over the world have assisted in making the celebration successful.
'Ellen Alice Terry was born at Coventry, England, Feb. 27, 1848 [sic]. She was the second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J.F. Terry, both well-known provincial actors, and descends from a long line of actors. Miss Terry spent her childhood among many brothers and sisters, for the family numbered six, Kate, Ellen, Marian, Florence, Charles, and Fred. They all went on the stage and several of them made quite a name for themselves. Ellen Terry made her début when only 8 years old.
'When only sixteen years old she was married to G.F. Watts, the artist, and retired from the stage for three years. In 1867 she appeared again at the Queen's Theatre in A Double Marriage, and in December of that year undertook the part of Katherine in The Taming of the Shrew, when she acted with Sir Henry Irving for the first time.
'In 1868, after her marriage to E.A. Wardell, an actor whose stage name was Charles Kelly, Ellen Terry again retired from the stage, this time for seven years, emerging from her retirement to play the part of Philippa Chester in The Wandering Heir, by Charles Reade, at the [Queen's Theatre, London, 28 February 1874]. Her great success was was in 1878 [30 December], when she played Ophelia in Hamlet with Sir Henry Irving. From that time until 1902 she remained with him as leading lady, repeatedly touring the British provinces and visiting the United States five times. What finally led to their separation is not known.'
(The New York Times, Sunday, 28 April 1906, p. 7c)

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© John Culme, 2008