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Abington [née Barton], Frances [Fanny] (1737–1815), actress, was born in lowly circumstances and grew up in the slums around Drury Lane. Her mother died when she was fourteen; her father, who according to some accounts was the son of Christopher Barton of ...

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Frances Abington (1737–1815) by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1771 [as Miss Prue in Love for Love by William Congreve] Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

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Janet Achurch (1863–1916) by Barraud, 1887 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Achurch, Janet [real name Janet Sharp] (1863–1916), actress, was born at 47 Richmond Grove, Chorlton upon Medlock, Lancashire, on 17 January 1863, the third and youngest daughter (there was also a son) of William Prior Sharp, insurance agent, and his wife, Jane, ...

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Adams [née Campin], Mary Grace Agnes (1898–1984), television producer and programme director, was born on 10 March 1898 at Well House Farm, Hermitage, Berkshire, the elder of two daughters (her sister died aged three) and second of four children of Edward Bloxham Campin...

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Laura Addison (1822–1852) by W.? Hollis, pubd 1851 (after Paine) [as Imogen in Cymbeline] © National Portrait Gallery, London

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E. D. Cook

revised by J. Gilliland

Addison [née Wilmshurst], Laura (1822–1852), actress, the daughter of Thomas Wilmshurst, a grocer, was born at Colchester, Essex, on 15 November 1822. Despite family opposition, her lack of training, and the absence of any patronage, she made her stage début in Norwich...

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Aguzzi, Elizabeth Clarice [Lizzie] (1856–1938), equestrian performer, was born at 3 Felix Street, Lambeth, London, on 4 February 1856, the daughter of Antoni Aguzzi (1809/10-1880), an equestrian performer, and his wife Helen, née Schmidt (1824-1903). Her circus performances, as a bareback and trick act rider, were first noted in the 1870s. Playbills for her performances at ...

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Albanesi, Margherita Cecilia Brigida Lucia Maria [Meggie] (1899–1923), actress, was born at 4 Mandeville Place, Marylebone, London, on 8 October 1899, the second daughter of Carlo Albanesi (1858–1926), pianist, composer, and teacher of music at the Royal Academy of Music...

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Allan, Maud [real name Ulla Maude Durrant] (1873–1956), dancer, was born in Toronto, Canada, on 27 August 1873. Her name was registered as Ulla Maude Durrant, the daughter of William Allan Durrant (1851–1917), a shoemaker, and his wife, Isa...

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Sara Allgood (1883–1950) attrib. Robert Gregory National Gallery of Ireland

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Allgood, Sara (1883–1950), actress, was born in Dublin on 31 October 1883, the second daughter of George Allgood (d. in or before 1911), a printing compositor, and his wife, Margaret Harold, a second-hand furniture seller.

Sara was educated at Marlborough Street Training College, Dublin...

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Anderson [married name Sykes], Marjorie Enid (1913–1999), radio broadcaster, was born on 7 November 1913 at 35 Barton Street, London, the only child of Harold Harry Anderson (d. 1918/19), private secretary, of independent means, and his wife, Charlotte Augusta, née Boyle (...

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Anderson, Mary (1859–1940), actress, was born in Sacramento, California, USA, on 28 July 1859, the daughter of Charles Henry Anderson (d. 1863) and his wife, Antonia Leugers, and named Mary Antoinette. Her mother, a Philadelphian of German, staunchly Catholic descent, had been disowned by her family after eloping to ...

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Mary Anderson (1859–1940) by W. & D. Downey, 1889 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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See Jackson, Gordon Cameron

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Yvonne Germaine Jeanne Arnaud (1890–1958) by unknown photographer, 1930 Getty Images

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Arnaud, Yvonne Germaine Jeanne (1890–1958), actress, was born on 20 December 1890 in Bordeaux, France, the daughter of Félix Léon Paul Arnaud, a colonel in the French army, and his wife, Antoinette de Montégu. Educated in Paris she won a first prize for piano playing at the ...

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Arnold, Doris Grace (1904–1969), radio presenter and producer, was born at 74 Cecil Road, Wimbledon, Surrey, on 4 November 1904, the daughter of Edward Arnold (b. 1875), a carpenter and joiner, and his wife, Grace Harriet, née Stephens (1882–1943). She attended Tiffin Girls' School...

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Dame Edith Margaret Emily Ashcroft (1907–1991) by Jorge Lewinski, 1968 [with Variation on Peggy by Walter Sickert, 1934–5] © Jorge Lewinski; collection National Portrait Gallery, London