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Ellen Terry

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Ellen Terry

by William Henry Grove
bromide postcard print, 1889
5 1/4 in. x 3 3/8 in. (132 mm x 87 mm) overall
Purchased, 1983
Photographs Collection
NPG x17049

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  • Robin Gibson, Pets in Portraits, 2015, p. 101 Read entry

    Writing in 1914 from Australia to her great friend, the painter, writer and dog owner W. Graham Robertson, on one of the punishing lecture tours she undertook in later life, the great actress remembered some of the many dogs she had known: 'I cd think of nothing but Dogs for a long while - they were much easier to think of than people - & I babbled of Snob - Winkie - Charley - Fussy [sic] - Drummy & Bossy as well of all my later ducks - (Dogs -).' Fussie was the fox terrier she had acquired from the famous jockey Fred Archer in the mid-1880s and, since he was the first fox terrier she had owned, may reasonably be assumed to be one of the two being tempted with titbits by his mistress, apparently on a stage set. The other is probably Drummy or Bossy.

    It was in 1878 that Ellen Terry finally went into regular partnership with her great opposite number, Henry Irving, at the Lyceum Theatre and went on to create some of her most memorable roles. The relationship with Irving was a close though informal one, and she and Fussie accompanied Irving on all his American tours between 1883 and 1897. Gradually, however, as Ellen Terry remembered in her autobiography, Fussie 'had his affections alienated by a course of chops, tomatoes, strawberries, "ladies' fingers" soaked in champagne and a beautiful fur rug of his very own presented by Baroness Burdett-Coutts!', and his ownership was officially transferred to Irving.

    As Irving's dog, Fussie's exploits and requirements became legendary. He had his own chair in Irving's dressing-room, made (unscheduled) appearances on stage round the world, found his way from Southampton back to the Lyceum after missing the boat to America for the 1888 tour and, after missing the train from New York, was discovered by the station master trotting dutifully after it down the line to California. Fussie met his end in 1897 after falling through a trap door on the stage in Manchester. 'Henry was not told until the end of the play ... We drove [to the hotel] and found him there eating his supper with the poor dead Fussie, who would never eat supper any more, curled up in the sofa ... He is buried in the dogs’ cemetery, Hyde Park.'

Events of 1889back to top

Current affairs

The London Dock strike takes place resulting in a victory for the dock workers striking over pay and conditions.
Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act, allowing legal intervention between children and parents for the first time.
Charles Booth, the English social scientist, publishes the first volume of Life and Labour of the People, an extensive survey into the living conditions of London's East End working class communities.

Art and science

George Gissing's The Nether World, a dark account of the lives of the urban poor in Clerkenwell, is published. Gissing absorbs the French naturalist style of writers such as Emile Zola to produce a harshly realistic observation of life in London at the end of the nineteenth century.

International

The Eiffel Tower is erected, designed by the French engineer and bridge builder Alexandre Gustave Eiffel for the Paris Exposition. At 300m high, it was the tallest manmade structure in the world at the time.
The Second International organisation is formed at a Congress in Paris by various socialist and labour parties, with the intention of working together for international socialism. It also declared 1 May International Labour Day.

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