Dame Alice Ellen Terry, GBE (1847 – 1928), known professionally as Ellen Terry, was an English actress who became the leading Shakespearean actress in Britain. Born into a family of actors, Terry began performing as a child, acting in Shakespeare plays in London, and toured throughout the British provinces in her teens.
At 16 she married the 46-year-old artist George Frederic Watts, but they separated within a year. She soon returned to the stage but began a relationship with the architect Edward William Godwin and retired from the stage for six years. She resumed acting in 1874 and was immediately acclaimed for her portrayal of roles in Shakespeare and other classics.
In 1878 she joined Henry Irving’s company as his leading lady, and for more than the next two decades she was considered the leading Shakespearean and comic actress in Britain. Two of her most famous roles were Portia in The Merchant of Venice and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. She and Irving also toured with great success in America and Britain.
Photogravure of English actress, Ellen Terry (1847-1928) as Marguerite in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust, Act III, Scene I, 1887 via
Photogravure of English actress, Ellen Terry (1847-1928) as Portia in William Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene I., 1887 via