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Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Mrs Patrick Campbell (Beatrice Stella Campbell (née Tanner)) (1865-1940), Actress; former wife of Patrick Campbell, and later wife of George Frederick Myddleton Cornwallis-West

Actress; born 9 February 1865 in Kensington. Won scholarship to Guildhall School of Music 1882; aged 19 fell pregnant and eloped with Patrick Campbell (died 1900); acted in amateur dramatics then, from financial necessity, started touring 1888; first professional London role 1890; three years later spotted by George Alexander, who gambled, correctly, on casting her in Arthur Wing Pinero’s new play The Second Mrs Tanqueray, whereupon her career took off; became an admired tragedian, critical triumphs including roles in The Notorious Mrs Ebbsmith (1895) and Beyond Human Power (1901); from 1901 undertook regular tours to America where she became known as a witty and eccentric British diva; played opposite Sarah Bernhardt in Pelléas and Mélisande (1904); George Bernard Shaw, whose infatuation with Campbell reached a peak around 1912, cast her as the first Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion (1914); married George Cornwallis-West 1914, separated 1919; a series of lapdogs continued to provide loyal companionship; seen less often on the English stage after World War I; ever short of money, took minor character roles in Hollywood films 1930–35; moved to France 1938; practically alone and penniless, died 9 April 1940 of pulmonary infection at Hôtel Pavillon de Navarre, Pau, where she was living; buried in Pau.

Her friend Walford Graham Robertson described her in these terms: ‘Her strange beauty and mysterious eyes full of brooding sadness were of great help to her in weird parts … though I remember her taking credit for the latter entirely to herself. “My eyes are really nothing in particular … God gave me boot buttons, but I invented the dreamy eyelid, and that makes all the difference.”’ [1]

A journalist in 1895 said of her:

Mrs. Patrick Campbell looks much younger off the stage than she does on; she is tall, slender, and almost fragile-looking, with a very pale, delicate oval face, rendered more so by her dark hair and beautiful large eyes, both of which are inherited from her Italian mother … her voice is low and very sweet, she speaks slowly, and the slight strange accent or intonation of some of her words is quaint and in keeping with her appearance. [2]

Carol Blackett-Ord

Footnotesback to top

1) Robertson 1931, p.257.
2) Griffith 1895, p.264.

Referencesback to top

Alec-Tweedie 1904
Alec-Tweedie, Mrs E., Behind the Footlights, London, 1904.

Ashton 1997
Ashton, G., Pictures in the Garrick Club, ed. K.A. Burnim and A. Wilton, London, 1997.

Aston 2004
Aston, E., ‘Campbell, Beatrice Stella [Mrs Patrick Campbell] (1865–1940)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; online ed., January 2008.

Campbell 1922
Campbell, Mrs P., My Life and Some Letters, London, 1922.

[Cassell] 1899
[Cassell & Co., pub.,] Royal Academy Pictures 1899: illustrating the hundred and thirty-first exhibition of the Royal Academy, London, 1899.

Davis 1992
Davis, N.S., A Lark Ascends: Florence Kate Upton, Artist and Illustrator, Metuchen, NJ, 1992.

Dent 1952
Dent, A., ed., Bernard Shaw and Mrs Patrick Campbell: Their Correspondence, London, 1952.

Dent 1961
Dent, A., Mrs Patrick Campbell, London, 1961.

Fitzgerald 1975
Fitzgerald, P., Edward Burne-Jones: A Biography, London, 1975.

Griffith 1895
Griffith, M., ‘Juliet: Mrs Patrick Campbell’, Strand Magazine, vol.10, 1895, pp.260–66.

Hart-Davis 1972
Hart-Davis, R., A Catalogue of the Caricatures of Max Beerbohm, London, 1972.

Holroyd 1979
Holroyd, M., ed., The Genius of Shaw: A Symposium, London, 1979.

Horsley Hinton 1903
Horsley Hinton, A., ‘Artistic Photography of To-Day … Mr. Frederick Hollyer and the Interpretation of Colour’, Magazine of Art, 1903, pp.352–6.

Kipling 1898
Kipling, R., The Vampire: A poem … written for a picture by Philip Burne-Jones exhibited at the New Gallery in London, 1897, Washington, DC, 1898.

Laurence 1977
Laurence, D.H., Shaw: An Exhibit, exh. cat., Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin, 1977.

Lucie-Smith 1975
Lucie-Smith, E., The Invented Eye: Masterpieces of Photography 1839–1914, London, 1975.

Macqueen-Pope 1958
Macqueen-Pope, W., St. James’s: Theatre of Distinction, London, 1958.

Mander & Mitchenson 1957
Mander, R. and J. Mitchenson, A Picture History of the British Theatre, London, 1957.

Manners 1900
Manners, M.M.V., Duchess of Rutland, Portraits of Men and Women, London, 1900.

Mitchell 2012
Mitchell, J.L., ‘Rudyard Kipling, The Vampire, and the Actress’, English Literature in Transition, 1880–1920, vol.55, no.3, 2012, pp.303–14.

Ormond & Kilmurray 2015
Ormond, R., and E. Kilmurray, Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends, exh. cat., NPG, London, 2015.

Pearson 1950
Pearson, H., The Last Actor-Managers, London, 1950.

Peters 1984
Peters, M., Mrs Pat: The Life of Mrs Patrick Campbell, London, 1984.

Robertson 1931
Robertson, W.G., Time Was: Reminiscences, London, 1931.

Rogers 1989
Rogers, M., Camera Portraits: Photographs from the National Portrait Gallery, London 1839–1989, exh. cat., NPG, London, 1989.

Rothenstein 1926
Rothenstein, J., The Portrait Drawings of William Rothenstein 1889–1925, London, 1926.

Tilney 1906
Tilney, F.C., ‘Portraiture Ancient and Modern: Frederick Hollyer’s Exhibition of Portraiture at His Studios, 9 Pembroke Square’, British Journal of Photography, 26 October 1906, pp.844–5.

Whyte 1898
Whyte, F., Actors of the Century: A Play-Lover’s Gleanings from Theatrical Annals, London, 1898.

Wratislaw 1894
Wratislaw, T., ‘The Photographic Salon at the Dudley Gallery’, The Studio, vol.2, 1894.

Zatlin 2016
Zatlin, L.G., Aubrey Beardsley: A Catalogue Raisonné, 2 vols, New Haven and London, 2016.