Dame Ellen Terry 1847-1928

Past display archive
7 June - 9 November 2008

Room 26


Ellen Terry was one of the greatest English actresses of the nineteenth century, renowned for her liveliness, depth of feeling and beauty. Terry came from a theatrical family; her father, mother and four of her siblings were also actors. She was trained by her parents, and began acting as a child. This display includes a photograph of Terry in her first professional role, aged eight, as the boy Mamillius in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale.

As a teenager, Terry's fame was enhanced when she married the celebrated artist George Frederick Watts, and posed for him for several paintings, including the famous portrait Choosing, also on display in this room. The marriage was short-lived, but Terry was established as a muse for artists and writers of the Pre-Raphaelite and Aesthetic movements. As leading lady to the famous actor-manager Henry Irving, Terry triumphed in Shakespearean roles and was adored by Victorian audiences. Her stage career lasted sixty-nine years.

Share this