Friday, 7 October 2016

Ellen Terry and her Iridescent Beetlewing Dress ...



I had already come across the ‘beetlewing costume’ via posts I had written about closing up Kipling’s home – Batemans – particularly the conservation of its contents.
Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth -
painting by John Singer Sargent
(1888)



I knew Ellen Terry’s name (1847 – 1928) … but really nothing about her life or the magnificent glistening dress she wore when performing Lady Macbeth.


So when hearing a talk on Ellen at our Social History group … I was enchanted to learn more. 



Terry came from an acting family … and began performing in her childhood … she was one of 11 children … at least five became actors – Kate, her elder sister, was the grandmother of Sir John Gielgud, who along with Sir Laurence Olivier and Sir Ralph Richardson were the trinity of actors dominating the British stage for much of the 20th century …


'Choosing' - portrait of Ellen
Terry, by George Watts c. 1864
The Terry family gave performances around the country … with Ellen taking parts from the early age of 9 … it seems she never stopped.


An eminent artist, George Watts, painted the two sister’s portraits … and then despite the age difference (46 – 17) – Watts and Terry married: it didn’t last, but the time allowed Terry to meet various luminaries of the time: Browning, Tennyson, Gladstone and Disraeli … which opened new doors and gained her more admirers.


Julia Margaret Cameron's photo of
Ellen Terry, aged 16


While the portraits painted by Watts and the early photographs by the renowned photographer, Julia Margaret Cameron, ensured she became a cult figure for the poets and painters of the later Pre-Raphaelite and Aesthetic movements, including Oscar Wilde.


Terry lived life to the full … beginning a relationship with a progressive architect-designer, by whom she had two children, Edward William Godwin (1833 – 1886).  Godwin had a particular interest in medieval costume … which led him to design theatrical costumes and scenery for Terry and her performances, even after their affair cooled.


Northampton Guildhall - designed in the
Ruskinian-Gothic style by Godwin


Terry had two further marriages, and other liaisons over her long life … one where she married an American, James Carew, who was 30 years her junior … that lasted only two years.


Two other partnerships developed – not of the romantic kind – for a short while with George Bernard Shaw – they had struck up a friendship and conducted a famous correspondence …. they weren’t so keen when they met!




Henry Irving (1838 - 1905)
The other was with Henry Irving who had worked hard to become a successful actor-manager-theatre director … particularly after his association and subsequent partnership with Ellen.


She remained popular regardless of how much and how often her behaviour defied the strict morality expected by her Victorian audiences … it is unknown whether Terry had a romantic relationship with Irving – who was considered the doyen of English classical theatre, even, in 1895, being the first actor to be knighted.


Much of Ellen Terry’s life has been recorded in art and photography … often wearing gowns designed by Godwin.  The most spectacular, and one which was worn and worn over the years – here and in America – is the Iridescent Beetle Wing costume she wore as Lady Macbeth.



The costume in dire need of repair ... 


The gown was made in crochet using a soft green wool and blue tinsel yarn from Bohemia to create an effect similar to chain mail.






Part of the portrait by John Singer Sargent
John Singer Sargent on seeing Terry in her performance in 1888 was compelled to paint her portrait, hence we have a detailed image to refer to.  It is in the Tate Gallery – where it had been donated in 1906; there is a contemporaneous photograph of Ellen Terry wearing the dress in the National Portrait Gallery.


Beetle wings


The costume was embroidered with gold and decorated with over a thousand of those sparkly wings from the green jewel beetle.  By the way the beetles shed their wings naturally – thank goodness for that clarification!




The Bejewlled Beetle


I found that the Victoria and Albert Museum have an article on Ellen Terry, the actress, her designer and her costumes … well worth a read.





Henry Irving watching a rehearsal -
illustration c. 1893



Irving died in 1905 leaving Terry distraught however she returned to the theatre in 1906.  She continued to perform, appeared in her first film in 1916, travelled back and forth to America, toured Australasia … while also lecturing on the Shakespearean heroines. 







She continued to participate in the theatrical world, though after WW1 withdrew more and more … she was recognised by society and appointed a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire – only the second actress to be so honoured.


Smallhythe Place

Terry, in 1899, had bought Smallhythe Place, near Tenterden on the Kent/Sussex border – which she first saw with Henry Irving.  Terry’s daughter, Edith Craig, opened the house in 1929 as a memorial to her mother. 





A walk through the gardens at Smallhythe
It is now owned by the National Trust who maintain the many personal and theatrical mementos, the house, garden and the Barn Theatre in the grounds … where the tradition of putting on a Shakespearean play every year on the anniversary of Ellen Terry’s death (21 July) has been maintained.





The Barn Theatre
That costume, transforming the beautiful red-haired actress into a cross between a jewelled serpent and a medieval knight, was the talk of the town in 1888 after the first night … and was, after one hundred years (with all the wear and tear of tours, behind the scenes change of costumes, and packing crates), desperately in need of a touch of conservation.


Ellen Terry c 1880 - aged 33




This Guardian article explains that the repairs proved as muchcostume archaeology as needlework … it was restored to its present glory by a specialist textile conservator, Zenzie Tinker – whom I had across as the expert used by Batemans, in Rudyard Kipling’s, home.





I so enjoyed learning about Ellen Terry, which led me to look at theatre in the 1800s, actors and actresses, society, art and literary works, epistolary collections, textile conservation … and then the history of it all, ending with Smallhythe Place – which I have never visited … definitely something I need to correct.


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

68 comments:

Terra Hangen said...

I love this post, it was positively fascinating. What a shimmering dream of a costume and glad no beetles were harmed in its creation :) I majored in Art History in college and pre-Raphaelites are my favorite painters, Ellen Terry is a natural as a potential ideal for them.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Hillary,

What a fascinating woman. To be so emancipated in the Victorian Era is quite an accomplishment... Thanks for sharing her story!

Janie Junebug said...

How beautiful she was! An excellent post, Hillary. I'd heard of Ellen Terry but knew nothing about her. Now I want to learn more and visit her home on my non-existent trip to England. Perhaps I can find photos of the contents of her house online. I had a lovely experience recently. The blogger, fishducky, sent me an email with a Google photo of the River Cam. I had never thought to look for it online. My daughter learned to row crew there. I was thrilled to see a spot where she had been and had such a great experience.

Love,
Janie

Anabel Marsh said...

What a beauty! The photograph of her at 16 is so modern somehow, it could be today. I did not know she was Edith Craig's mother - she directed the original Pageant of Great Women (part of the suffrage campaign) which we recreated at Glasgow Women's Library last year.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

She was beautiful.
Even back then people went through multiple divorces.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

This redhead would love to wear that dress.

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Absolutely fascinating, Hilary - as usual. Those photographs are amazingly clear - don't you just love peering into the faces?! I knew nothing about any of this before reading your piece here - and I must have passed Smallhythe Place many times without realising its significance. Great post.

Diana Wilder said...

What a marvelous account! I was familiar with the depiction of Ellen Terry as Lady MacBeth, but not the story of the costume. She was one of the unforgettable faces of the time.

Interesting about the jewel beetles. I'm attaching a link to a portrait of Lady Curzon, the Vicereine of India, in a gown she commissioned from the House of Worth for a grand ball in Delhi celebrating her coronation as Vicereine. The dress suggested peacock feathers; a jewel beetle was set into the 'eye' of the embroidered peacock feather. Beautiful woman and stunning gown (though I understand that the embroidery is somewhat tarnished now:

http://www.gogmsite.net/_Media/lady-curzon-svr-5may11-2.jpeg

Elephant's Child said...

Theatre was definitely in her blood (and bones) wasn't it?
And thank you for the information that the beetles shed their beauty naturally. At the time, it wouldn't have been out of the question for her beauty/drama to be enhanced with the death of other species.
In living life as she chose she was definitely ahead of her time wasn't she?

DMS said...

What a fascinating post. I was taken in by all of it and it was all new to me. I didn't know anything about her- but it sounds like she had a very interesting life. Her romantic relationships don't sound like they were very successful- but she certainly met a lot of important people during her life.

So happy that no beetles were harmed in the making of that costume!
~Jess

Deborah Weber said...

What a fascinating post. I knew nothing of her, and now I want to know everything. I'm fascinated with costuming and that beetle-wing creation is extraordinary.

Truedessa said...

It sounds like she had an amazing life and a man 30 years younger. I think she was a woman of passion and needed diversity.

Out on the prairie said...

What a amazing life. The costumes like something i have never heard of.The iridescence is beautiful when I find it in nature, but I wasn't aware that they shed exoskeletons , but mus when they grow.

Jo said...

What an incredible life and fascinating dress. Thanks for looking up all that history for us Hilary. You have such an enquiring mind. I remember hearing of Ellen Terry but didn't know much about her either.

Pearson Report said...

Hi Hilary,

That was an interesting post. I've been away from blogging for a wee bit and coming back to such a wonderful, insightful piece of writing is a great re-entry.
Thank you for sharing Ellen Terry with us, and for the additional links.

Sending smiles and happy thoughts your way. I hope life is good.
Cheers, Jenny xxoo

Gattina said...

That's the less you can say that she lived her life to the fullest ! She must have been a special woman not only by her beauty !

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Terra – good to see you … and so pleased you were fascinated with Ellen’s history. Wonderful to know I seem to have covered the salient points of that time, with reference to Terry …

@ Michael – lovely to see you … she lived a fascinating life and was obviously very accomplished in many ways … delighted you enjoyed her story.

@ Janie – how great this post entranced you and brought much to life for you … I’m sure you can find lots more information about Smallhythe. That was good of Fishducky sharing information about Cambridge where your daughter learned to row and thus crew. Cambridge is wonderful … I don’t know it very well – I’ve spent time in Oxford over the years.

@ Anabel – I’m so pleased you are able to add to the post re Edith Craig … as I hadn’t picked that aspect up … I’d noted the suffrage connection … but not read up on it. Brilliant you’d picked her up and recreated the campaign last year at the Glasgow Women’s Library … I expect you wrote about it … so will be over to check your blog ….

@ Alex – she was stunningly beautiful wasn’t she? Your comment is interesting … some were resolved amicably … others not so – with the women coming out very much the underdog, even if they had the wealth.

@ Diane – your redhead would look divine in the dress! I thought of you as I typed up the post …

@ Mike – many thanks. Thankfully the images mainly are in Wiki … I’m not that good at ‘peering into faces’ … but now I will pay attention!! I know I’ve been through Tenterden and on occasion up via Smallhythe Place on the northerly route through … but not realised its significance. We might end up bumping into each other sometime!

@ Diana – she must have made a huge impact at the time and brought the theatre to many new audiences …

Fascinating to see Lady Curzon in her peacock dress via your link … I’ve looked up further information … again things I didn’t know about. She also was stunning wasn’t she … ?

@ EC – it seems to be exactly that … in her blood and genes. I had to note the natural shedding of those beautiful wings … Ellen was ahead of her time in many ways – and was able to fulfil her ambitions …

Sadly many species were hunted/ sought after … yet it was in this era – that species conservation came to the fore. Conservation and the history of species is a subject I won’t debate … but I do enjoy finding out … I just hope humans can preserve all life and life within earth’s means.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jess – she seemed to be a happy soul … and thankfully didn’t suffer from depression – she just got on with things … her relationship with Henry Irving was a very happy affair … professionally and emotionally as she spent so much time with him.

Godwin was pre-occupied with his designs … so she got on with life … the children went into the theatrical industry. Thankfully no beetles were harmed!

@ Deborah – the links I put in … will give you some extra information … but I’m sure there are many other articles on Ellen Terry, the theatre and costumes of that era … enjoy your research …

@ Truedessa – yes the 30 year gap was somewhat extraordinary … there’s not much on Carew, but he did live here when he married her. You’re probably so right about the need for diversity …

@ Steve – I’d spotted the beetle wing dress when I’d been researching ‘Bateman’s’ (Kipling’s home) and the conservation of their tapestries … but then was able to find out some more … once Ellen Terry had been brought to my attention.

The iridescence is just beautiful in nature … apparently the shedding is a natural phenomena …

@ Jo – I was just grateful to be directed to Ellen via the Social History talk we had … now I’ve looked a little further and opened up more doors for me to look into! Glad you enjoyed the post.

@ Jenny – you’ve had other things going on … but it’s excellent to see you back ... and I’m so happy this post has inspired you to look into the links. Sending smiles and happiness over the blogosphere … life is settling down here – thank you …

@ Gattina – she certainly lived life to the full … but through her art in the theatre gave so much back …

Thanks so much … lovely to have your comments and your thoughts and other links … cheers Hilary

jabblog said...

Most interesting. I wonder how the beetle wings were attached? Glue, I suppose - I don't think I'd fancy such a fiddly job.

TexWisGirl said...

wow, the dress... beetlewings! eek!

and marrying a man 30 yrs her junior. yikes!

Jacqui Murray said...

That is amazing history, Hilary. There are so many people who were iconic in their time but now forgotten. What a story.

Rhodesia said...

You never cease to amaze me with the subjects you come up with. Great post and a fascinating woman. Have a good day Diane

Mary Montague Sikes said...

What a fantastic and interesting story! The costume is amazing. I love that John Singer Sargent painted her in it. Thank you for the fabulous article!!! You have to make a book of these!!!

beste barki said...

Some people live multiple lives. Terry was such a person, wasn't she? When I learn about such people I become saddened by the fact that they can not know we still remember them.

Deborah Barker said...

I have heard of Ellen Terry and read a little about her but didn't know half of this. An intriguing story indeed. Not sure I would fancy the beetle wing outfit - makes me feel a little squeamish ha ha!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Janice - I think with a knotted thread and perhaps some glue ... nor would I fancy that job, but just like sequins being sewn on ... I wouldn't like it and done by candlelight.

@ Theresa - you with your animals ... shouldn't be squeamish. The age difference lark is a strange one, on that I agree ...

@ Jacqui - the talk interested me and I thought many of you would enjoy the read ... so a post needed to be written. There are many who have been forgotten ... but she wasn't one of them - her home is still there, as too her memorabilia and thus her history ...

@ Diane - I am glad I never put blinkers on my blog ... it opens up many possibilities (rather too many) of ideas to convert to posts ...

I'm just happy you enjoyed the article and her story ...

@ Monti - so glad you appreciated the post ... as an artist you'll appreciate the various creative aspects to the post ...

Re a book - I know I keep being asked ... one day I'll surprise myself and others and do something about it ...

@ Beste - she certainly spread those beetlewings didn't she and live life to the full. She must have died happy, as she achieved so much ... and her children were involved in the theatre and very quickly turned Smallhythe Place into a museum for her work and life ...

@ Deborah - her life covered many aspects ... at a time when so much was happening in the theatre ... so I was pleased to write this post: taught me a few things ...

She only wore the beetle-wing outfit when she was playing Lady Macbeth ... restoring the dress would make me more squeamish I think ...

Thanks so much - this was a fun post to write up and one that gave me an insight into theatre life of the late 1800s and early 1900s ... cheers Hilary

Inger said...

What an interesting post. She sounds like a bit of a wild woman, not of the Victorian era. I had never heard of her or her family, so glad I have now.

Kathleen Valentine said...

How absolutely fascinating. Of course I've always known who Ellen Terry was but I had no idea about how that fabulous costume was made!!! I just love stuff like that and now I want to try making something similar. Where can I get those wings? she asks with an evil grin.

Botanist said...

Fascinating insights, Hilary. Somehow I don't think the Victorians were as morally upright as they made out to be - a lot of carry on behind the scenes and it was all OK as long as it didn't cause a scandal :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Inger - she certainly was a fascinating lady ... and I loved finding out about her. I suppose she was being the best she could in the circumstances of theatrical life ... but the men always did their thing didn't they. Delighted you enjoyed the post ..

@ Kathleen - it is fascinating isn't it ... and I'd only heard about the costume via the conservation going on at Bateman's: Kipling's home.

Ah ha .. if you really want some beetle wings, oh thee with an evil grin! - they can be obtained through that major provider of all things .. via the Googling Google! So go ... create ...

@ Ian - the men in Victorian Britain were definitely not paragons of virtue - and you're right ... all is fine - as long as there wasn't a scandal.

Thanks so much to you three ... good to see you all - cheers Hilary

Patsy said...

That is an incredible dress!

Sherry Ellis said...

This is a fascinating post! I enjoyed reading about Ellen Terry. That was indeed a beautiful dress. I wouldn't have minded wearing it.

Jean Davis said...

Wow, that is one woman who stayed busy and really lived her life. The dress looks amazing!

Juliet Batten said...

Hilary, I enjoyed this post immensely. What a stunner Ellen Terry was. I love the picture of her as Lady Macbeth, in that beautiful costume. And I never knew she was the grandmother of Sir John Gielgud. What a woman! Thank you for putting all this together. I regard you as my history teacher!

Keith's Ramblings said...

Not only have I never visited Smallhythe Place, I must admit that I've never heard of it! After reading yet another fascinating and informative piece from you, I've added to my must see list!

Visit Keith's Ramblings

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Patsy - isn't the dress almost beyond belief ... wonderful though.

@ Sherry - so glad you enjoyed the read and learning about Ellen Terry - you'd have looked great in the dress giving one of your performances.

@ Jean - didn't she set an example for future generations ... having passion - which she pursued. The dress must have wowed ...

@ Juliet - she was so beautiful ... but obviously a wonderful actress too - but it was her sister who was Sir John's grandmother. Thanks so much for the wonderful complement ...

@ Keith - I know I should have called in to visit ... now I don't go that way so often ... still I will make a definitive plan. Delighted you've added it to your 'to visit' list.

Cheers and thanks so much ... delighted you've enjoyed reading up about Ellen Terry and her dress - Hilary

H.R. Sinclair, Southpaw said...

That is so cool. It's wild that they actually put the beetle wings on the costume. --And what a gorgeous costume.

Joanne said...

wow - the iridescent splendor of the dress and her life of art. The perfect person for the times, that's for sure. Very interesting post. Your research is extensive. Thanks for sharing

Shammickite said...

The name of the actress Ellen Terry was familiar to me, but I knew very little about her life. She was quite a fascinating woman to many people! I gasped at the idea of adding actual beetle wings to that fabulous costume. I'm glad the beetles gave their wings gladly for the sake of art!!! (It's hard to write the word "beetle", I really want to spell it "Beatle"!!!!)

cleemckenzie said...

I have a book with short bios of early actresses and Ellen Terry is included. The book doesn't go as deeply as you have into her life, so I was excited to read this post today. She was lovely and what I wouldn't give to see her Lady Macbeth!

Karen Lange said...

I believe I'd heard of Ellen as well, but had no idea of all the fascinating details. Thank you for this detailed history. It's interesting too, to think of all those she interacted with over the years. Reminds me of how small the world really is sometimes. Thanks so much for sharing. Hope you have a good week! :)

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

What an incredible woman. Thank you for sharing Ellen's story, Hilary. I won't forget her. Ellen was my grandmother's name.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Holly - it was such an interesting subject to find ... I was delighted to write it up ...

@ Joanne - yes Ellen Terry seems to have given us a wonderful history through her life. As you say the perfect person for her times.

@ Shammickite - thanks for the visit; it is amazing how they decorated costumes all those years ago ... and as you say thankfully the wings are shed naturally. I wonder what the Beatles would look like in iridescent beetle-wing costumes?!

@ Lee - they'd have been concentrating on her acting life I guess, one advantage of blogging - we can 'create' our posts to include varying snippets. I agree it would have been incredible to have seen her perform ... there must be some film clips of her, granted in the latter years of her life.

@ Karen - I was like you Karen ... so I was so glad to hear more and thus be able to write the post and add snippets in. Your point about the world being small even then is a good one - it surprises me to see she travelled to Australasia during WW1.

@ Joylene - it's a lovely name. So I'm glad you'll remember the post and her story because of your grandmother's name.

Cheers to you all - lovely seeing you ... and beetles will never be the same again ... Hilary

Deniz Bevan said...

Wow, such a fascinating story. It's interesting reading about people who seem to live so many lives within one lifetime. All her travels must have been interesting too. I love Singer Sargent's paintings!

Chrys Fey said...

I love that style of dress. I'd wear it even now. ;) I sure didn't know that beetle wings were on Ellen Terry's dress. I'll skip the wings. haha

Mark Noce said...

I love that Lady Macbeth painting! I've seen it in person at the Tate, and no photo does it justice. Very rad! :)

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I've come across Ellen Terry's name here and there, but I didn't know much about her. What a glamorous life she had, hobnobbing with all those big names. I hope it was a happy life, as well.

As for the beetlewing dress, I'm sure it was beautiful. I'm still not sure how I would feel about wearing beetle parts.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Deniz - good to see you ... it is a fascinating piece of history ... covering so much - and I really enjoyed writing this up with the different information. I've just had a better look at John Singer Sargent in Wiki as I knew very little about him - and I see what you mean ... he's a brilliant artist.

@ Chrys - I love seeing people dressed up - but am happy if I don't have to! The beetle wings must have made a huge impression, especially for the audience ...

@ Mark - how wonderful you've seen the painting in situ in the Tate - I must have a look. I'm sure no photo does it justice ...

@ Dianne - it seems she was happy ... there's no mention of any untoward aspects ... so a normal up and down - but in view of the public - she was certainly busy. The beetle wings evoke 'feelings' don't they ...

Thanks so much, good to see you ... and the beetle wings are making an interesting subject ... cheers Hilary

Lynn said...

Hi Hilary - I thought I had commented on this lovely post a few days ago when I read it. I was probably reading it on a break at work and got interrupted, which often happens. :)

That portrait is beautiful - she was such a remarkable woman. Lovely that she came from an acting family. I love that they put on Shakespeare plays every year at her home.

I'll bet that costume is something to see in person!

Elsie Amata said...

I know this post is about Terry, but those beetles are fascinating too. So pretty! And the time it must've taken to make that dress. Whew!

Crystal Collier said...

Fascinating. If anything, her life teaches me that I made the right choice NOT going into theater. (Yes, I was sorely tempted, as was my husband. Thank goodness we're smarter than that, eh?)

Gingi Freeman said...

That crochet to mimic chain mail is just fascinating! I am a costumer, and I love things like this.. so creative! Great post, thanks for sharing! <3 - http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com

mail4rosey said...

So much insight! I hadn't heard of her until now, but now that I have, I think I like her!

A Cuban In London said...

Fascinating connection to Gielguld there. I love the word you used, iridescent. I had not heard or read it for quite a long time. Similar to our Spanish "iridiscente", from Latin, too. That green dress is gorgeous. Thanks.

Greetings from London.

Robert Bennett said...

This might sound silly, but a lot of the baser descriptions remind me very heavily of my roommate.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Lynn - no worries ... I expect that sort of thing happens quite often at work .. but it's lovely to see you back. Isn't it an extraordinary story with all the ramifications of family life and then success ... I must get across to Smallhythe Place next year to see it and to see the dress ... that will be stunning ...

@ Elsie - how lovely to see you - it is about Terry, but it's also about the costume, which would have come about except for her acting abilities. Whew is a good word.

@ Crystal - interesting to read you and your husband thought seriously about the theatre life - certainly a rigorous one. At least you don't regret not going in that direction ...

@ Gingi - thanks for coming by and visiting. How interesting to read you are a costumier ...it was most certainly creative. Delighted you're here to read and comment.

@ Rosey - that's good ... she does seem like a delightful lady ... and I too rather like her!

@ ACIL - yes the Gielgud connection is that extra bit of interesting history - sadly not continued via Gielgud. The word 'iridescent' came from a description ... so sadly not mine - just used here ... but it does impart a glow. I can see the Latin root ... to both our English and your Spanish ...

@ Robert - well that's a happy co-incidence ... I'm glad about that ... you are lucky by the sound of it ..

Cheers to you all - and thanks so much, I'm very happy the post has proved of such interest ... Hilary

Denise Covey said...

Hi Hilary! I would have loved to have seen Ellen as Lady Macbeth! Love that dress! Gorgeous!

Empty Nest Insider said...

Hi Hilary! I've never been particularly fond of any bugs, but I love the vivid emerald coloring of the green jewel beetle wings. What a spectacular gown! Ellen certainly led an interesting life. Thank you for sharing her story.

Julie

Marja said...

Haven't been here for a while Live got in the way. Great to read this fascinating story about ellen and who is a pretty woman. The dress which was designed for her is so amazing. She is a good looking lady and being an actor as well who have that flair I can see how she attracted men.

Annalisa Crawford said...

Very progressive for her time, all those marriages and liaisons! She must have been well-loved for it not to affect her career.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Denise - she certainly is one inspiring lady ... and obviously incredibly talented. Isn't the dress magnificent ...

@ Julie - I know 'poor bugs' .. but they are so pretty and none was hurt in the making of the dress! I was just fascinated by the whole process and learning about Ellen's life ...

@ Marja - life does get in the way at times. Ellen Terry was so pretty - but made the most of her life ... and built on those advantages - bringing a new way of life for many.

@ Annalisa - she was progressive wasn't she ... and yes she had marriages and liaisons - but many did and still do ... each for their own, I guess. You're right - she must have had a very non-confrontational style ... and as you say been loved and admired ...

Thanks so much for the visits - I'm just so glad the post interested you in various ways ... cheers Hilary

rosaria williams said...

Hi Hilary, thanks for your visit to my blog. I do hope your new blip is manageable. Best of everything.

diedre Knight said...

Such a charming story! Though hers was a life much the same as most beautiful actresses, the era itself seems so enchanting. Not sure I could wear a gown adorned with beetle wings but the effect was certainly dazzling. I love that they remember her each year through theater - how touchingly fitting!

Susan Scott said...

completely fascinating Hilary thank you! Golly she was beautiful! Clearly an artistic family -

Angela Barton said...

Thank you for your blog post about this remarkable lady. It was fascinating to read with cuppa in hand. I even found the beetle wings beautiful, which for someone who's squeamish about creepy crawlies, that came as a surprise.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Rosaria - good to see you again and I'm sure all will be well.

@ Diedre - Ellen proved such a wonderful subject for a post ... so much going on in her life, and she was stunningly beautiful. I was told yesterday that Smallyhythe is a fantastic place to visit ... so next year I must go ... while her dress rotates on a plinth ... so the glamour can be seen.

@ Susan - delighted you found the post about Ellen so entrancing ... she was so beautiful and from an artistic family.

@ Angela - good to meet you and I'm glad you relaxed with your cup in hand and happily read away. Those beetle wings are amazing aren't they ...

Cheers and thanks for your visits ... Hilary

Jeffrey Scott said...

Impressive dress. Looks like it was a show-stopper.
But, the show must go on.
It certainly did. :)
I have yet to see a live play. Can you believe that?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jeffrey - she must have been a show stopper, more so with that incredible dress on ... and her show definitely went on.

Oh yes I think you must make an effort to go and see a live play - well worth it ... cheers and I hope that theatre comes running towards you soon! Hilary