Litton, Marie (DNB00)

LITTON, MARIE (1847–1884), actress, whose real name was Lowe, a native of Derbyshire, was born in 1847. She made what was said to be her first appearance on any stage at the Princess's Theatre, 23 March 1868, as Effie Deans in a revised version by Boucicault of his adaptation from the ‘Heart of Midlothian,’ the ‘Trial of Effie Deans.’ It was a performance of much promise. On the opening of the Gaiety Theatre, 21 Dec. 1868, Miss Litton played Mrs. Cureton in ‘On the Cards,’ an adaptation by Mr. Alfred Thompson from ‘L'Escamoteur.’ At the same house she appeared, 13 Dec. 1869, in Byron's ‘Uncle Dick's Darling.’ She was for a time connected with the Brighton Theatre. On 25 Jan. 1871 she undertook the management of the Court Theatre in Sloane Square, London, and opened with ‘Randall's Thumb’ by (Sir) W. S. Gilbert. She retained the theatre for more than three years, and during that period placed on the stage, among other pieces, ‘Creatures of Impulse,’ ‘Great Expectations,’ ‘On Guard,’ the ‘Happy Land,’ and the ‘Wedding March,’ all by (Sir) W. S. Gilbert; ‘Broken Spells,’ by Westland Marston and W. G. Wills; ‘A Son of the Soil,’ adapted from ‘Le Lion Amoureux’ of Ponsard, by Mr. Herman C. Merivale; ‘Alone,’ by Palgrave Simpson and Herman Merivale; the ‘White Pilgrim,’ by Merivale; ‘Ready-Money Mortiboy,’ by (Sir) Walter Besant and James Rice; and ‘Brighton,’ adapted by Frank Marshall from ‘Saratoga’ of Bronson Howard. Miss Litton took secondary parts at her own theatre, and while managing the Court played Zayda at the Haymarket in Gilbert's ‘Wicked World’ (4 Jan. 1874). On 13 March 1874 she resigned the Court Theatre to Mr. Hare. On 24 April 1875 she was at the St. James's the original Caroline Effingham in Mr. Gilbert's ‘Tom Cobb,’ which was produced under her management. Two years later, at the Prince of Wales's, Tottenham Street, Tottenham Court Road, she played Mrs. Montressor in Tom Taylor's ‘An Unequal Match.’

Miss Litton first achieved distinguished success when she appeared in old comedy. In 1878 she took the theatre attached to the Royal Aquarium at Westminster, which she subsequently called the Imperial, and began with a fairly strong company a series of revivals of so-called classic pieces. She herself played Lady Teazle, Lydia Languish, Olivia in the ‘Vicar of Wakefield,’ and Miss Hardcastle. Without ever attaining a thorough mastery of her art, she displayed in these characters much brightness and refinement. Breadth of style she never reached, and her voice was hard and not too sympathetic. So pleasant and gracious, however, was her presence, and so easy were her movements, that even in parts out of her range she inspired interest and sympathy. Her Miss Hardcastle, a bewitching performance, was repeated 137 nights at the Imperial, and her Rosalind in ‘As you like it,’ after being played one hundred nights at the same house, was transferred for a summer season in 1880 to Drury Lane. Her company included at the house last named Mr. Herman Vezin (Jaques), Mr. Lionel Brough (Touchstone), Mr. W. Farren (Adam), Mr. Kyrle Bellew (Orlando), and Miss Sylvia Hodson (Audrey). A character in which she was seen to even greater advantage was Peggy in an alteration of the ‘Country Girl,’ which was given somewhat later at afternoon representations at the Gaiety. In October 1880 Miss Litton opened as manager the new Theatre Royal, Glasgow. On 6 Aug. 1881 at Drury Lane she played Eve de Malvoisie, a French siren, in ‘Youth,’ by Messrs. Pettitt and Harris. She played, 14 Jan. 1883, at the Globe in the ‘Cynic’ of Mr. Herman C. Merivale, and 25 March was the original Vere Herbert in Mr. H. Hamilton's adaptation of Ouida's novel of ‘Moths.’ The last impersonation was excellent. Signs of serious illness had then declared themselves, and she was soon compelled to quit the stage. She had married Mr. Wybrow Robertson, by whom she had two children, a boy and a girl, and with her husband and family she withdrew to Ascot, where, though buoyed up by hope of returning to the stage, her health gradually failed. She died at her town house, 6 Alfred Place, W., South Kensington, on 1 April 1884.

[Personal recollections, extending over her artistic career; Pascoe's Dramatic List; Era newspaper, 5 April 1884; Era Almanack, various years; Dutton Cook's Nights at the Play; E. Stirling's Old Drury Lane.]

J. K.