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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Margaret ('Peg') Woffington (1720?-1760), Actress

Actress; of humble origin, appeared in Dublin lilliputian company at age of ten; played Ophelia successfully at Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin, 1737, and Sir Harry Wildair, 1740; engaged by Rich for Covent Garden, London, 1740, and was immediately successful; at Drury Lane and Covent Garden, 1741-45 played several Shakespearian roles and performed opposite Garrick in King Lear and Richard III; in Dublin, 1751-54, at Covent Garden, 1754; quarrelled with Mrs Bellamy, and while performing opposite her, Margaret drove her off the stage and stabbed her; her last performance, Rosalind (As You Like It), 1757, during which she was stricken with palsy and remained bedridden until death. Her amours were numerous, and for some time she lived with Garrick.

This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1977, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.