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Lydia Bilbrooke (n?e Phillis Macbeth)

(1888-1990), Actress; daughter of Robert Walker Macbeth

Sitter in 2 portraits

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Lydia Bilbrooke (née Phillis Macbeth), by Bassano Ltd - NPG x127498

Lydia Bilbrooke (née Phillis Macbeth)

by Bassano Ltd
vintage bromide print on cream photographer's folder, 1917
NPG x127498


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Nicholas Blake

04 July 2015, 13:35

Phillis Macbeth was born to Lydia Betts shortly after her mother's marriage to the Scots born painter Robert Walker Macbeth in 1887. She was the biological daughter of Tree and when she started her acting career had regular contact with Tree. She took her stage name from Bilbrook on the Somerset coast where Macbeth had a country house. In the 1890s the Macbeths moved to Tower House Tite Street shortly after Oscar Wilde's disgrace. She told her family that her nursemaid formerly served in Wilde's House. Macbeth used her as a model in many of his apintings and drawings (eg Two Liltte Pilgrims Progress 1891 illustrations of Frances Burnett's book) She performed in the opening night of Dear Brutus around the time of the NPG portrait. She was married first to Reginald Owen actor and then to Harrison Brown a journalist with whom she had a daughter Felicity but subsequently separated. She was advised by Harrison Brown to relocate to Hollywood with the imminence of World War 2 where she acted in the film of Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray with help from Owens. She returned to the UK after the war

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