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Grace Arundale (née Kelly)
by The Biograph Studiobromide postcard print, 1900sNPG x330
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28 January 2019, 16:22
Grace Arundale was an older sibling of the well-known actress and singer, Sybil Arundale (Rosa Maria Kelly, 1882-1965). Both born in Leeds, Yorkshire, their parents were John Kelly (1840-1904), a partner in Kelly & Birchall, the architectural practice responsible for a number of churches including St. Patrick's, Soho Square, London, and his wife Mary Ann (née Crane, 1844-), who were married in Leeds in 1873. Grace Arundale's real name was Mary Agatha Kelly, born on 3 July 1874. Her earliest recorded appearance was under the name of Agatha Kelly on the 14 February 1885 at The Club, Bedford Park, West London at an amateur performance arranged by Mr. and Mrs. Field Fisher. She studied dancing under Enrico Cecchetti (1850-1928) and made her professional debut in 1890 with Horace Sedger's company on tour in Sweet Nancy. Other engagements followed, including in the 1892 Christmas pantomime at Drury Lane Theatre (Dick Whittington) with her younger sister, Rosa Kelly (Sybil Arundale) making her professional debut. Agatha and Rosa subsequently formed a variety theatre singing and dancing act as the Sisters Arundale as well as performing at a number of private functions.
Although Grace Arundale continued acting until about 1910 it was Sybil Arundale's career which flourished until she retired in the mid 1950s. Grace (Mary Agatha Kelly) died at the age of 92 in 1967.
The sisters' brother was Claude Augustine Kelly (1875-1922), an architect, musician and song writer, who was known professionally as Claude Arundale.