Ellen Terry, Player in Her Time

Nina Auerbach, Author
Nina Auerbach, Author W. W. Norton & Company $22.5 (504p) ISBN 978-0-393-02398-5
Reviewed on: 06/26/1987
Release date: 07/01/1987
Beautiful, charming, witty and vivacious, but the possessor of ""eerily large, powerful hands she hid throughout her life,'' Dame Ellen Terry (18471928) was one of the most popular actresses of the late 19th century. Incorporating hitherto unpublished letters, this complex study by a University of Pennsylvania professor (Communities of Women, etc.) covers the long life and exemplary career of a remarkable woman. Briefly married three times, mother of two illegitimate children (one of whom, Edward Gordon Craig, became a noted director-designer-theorist), Terry worked for a quarter-century with actor-director Henry Irving, carried on a brilliant correspondence with George Bernard Shaw (who wrote several parts for her) and, late in life, growing blind, became a world-traveling lecturer-recitalist. She always was loved and admired more for her warm personality than for her skill as an actress. Auerbach's stilted but exhaustive biography supersedes the 1968 book by Roger Manvell. Photos not seen by PW. (June 29)
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