1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Terry, Ellen Alicia

TERRY, ELLEN ALICIA (1848-), English actress, was born at Coventry on the 27th of February 1848. Her parents were well-known provincial actors, and her sisters Kate, Marion and Florence, and her brother Fred, all joined the theatrical profession, and her own first appearance on the stage was made on the 28th of April 1856, under the Keans' management, as the boy Mamilius in The Winter's Tale, at the Princess's theatre, London. Two years later she played Prince Arthur in King John with such grace as to win high praise. From 1860 to 1863 and again from 1867 to 1868 she acted with various stock companies. During this period she played, on the 26th of December 1867, for the first time with Henry Irving, being Cast as Katharine to his Petruchio in Garrick's version of The Taming of the Shrew at the Queen's theatre. When quite a girl she married G. F. Watts the painter, but the marriage was soon dissolved. Between 1868 and 1874, having married E. A. Wardell, an actor whose professional name was Charles Kelly, she was again absent from the stage, but she reappeared in leading parts at the Queen's theatre under Charles Reade's management. On the 17th of April 1875 she played Portia for the first time in an elaborate revival of The Merchant of Venice under the Bancrofts' management at the old Prince of Wales's theatre. This was followed by a succession of smaller triumphs at the Court theatre, culminating in her beautiful impersonation of Olivia in W. G. Wills's dramatic version of Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield, in 1878, the result of which was her engagement by Henry Irving as his leading lady for the Lyceum theatre, and the beginning of a long artistic partnership, in the success of which Miss Terry's attractive personality played a large part. Her Shakespearean impersonations at the Lyceum were Ophelia in 1878, Portia in 1879, Desdemona in 1881, Juliet and Beatrice in 1882, Viola in 1884, Lady Macbeth in 1888, Katherine, in Henry VIII., and Cordelia in 1892, Imogen in 1896, and Volumnia, in Coriolanus, in 1901. Other notable performances were those of the Queen in Wills's Charles I. in 1879, Camma in Tennyson's The Cup in 1881, Margaret in Wills's Faust in 1885, and the title-part in Charles, Reade's one-act play Nance Oldfield (1893), Rosamund in Tennyson's Becket (1893), Madame Sans-Gêne in Sardou's play (1897), and Clarisse in Robespierre (1899). With the Lyceum company she several times visited the United States. In 1902, while still acting with Sir Henry Irving, she appeared with Mrs Kendal in Beerbohm Tree's revival of The Merry Wives of Windsor, at His Majesty's theatre, and she continued, after Sir Henry Irving's death, to act at different theatres, notably at the Court theatre (1905) in some of G. Bernard Shaw's plays. In 1906 her stage-jubilee was celebrated in London with much enthusiasm, a popular subscription in England and America resulting in some £8000 being raised. In 1907 Miss Terry married James Carew, an American actor.

Her sister Marion Terry (b. 1856) became only less distinguished on the English stage than herself; and her brother Fred Terry (b. 1865) also became a leading actor, and a successful manager in association with his wife, the actress Julia Neilson.

See Charles Hiatt, Ellen Terry and her Impersonations (1898); Clement Scott, Ellen Terry.