Ellen Terry

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Ellen Alice Terry (February 27, 1847July 21, 1928) was an English stage actress.

Born in Coventry, she came of a theatrical family, her brother Fred Terry and several of her other siblings being actors. She first appeared on stage as a child. On 20 February 1864, shortly before her 17th birthday, she married the painter George Frederic Watts. However, the birth of her son, Edward Gordon Craig, in 1872, was the result of a liaison with the progressive architect-designer E.W. Godwin, with whom she retreated to Hertfordshire, temporarily retiring from acting. The liaison cooled in 1874.

From 1874 she became the leading Shakespearean actress in London, and in partnership with Henry Irving became successful in England and the USA. In 1876 she married Charles Kelly. In 1903 she formed a theatre management business with her son, abandoning Irving. She struck up a friendship and a famous correspondence with George Bernard Shaw. In 1907 she married American actor James Carew. She became a Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE) in 1925.

Her son Edward Gordon Craig became an important actor, designer, and director; her nephew, Sir John Gielgud, also became an actor. The singer, Helen Terry, is one of her descendants.

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