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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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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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Achurch, Janet [real name Janet Sharp] (1863–1916), actress, was born at 47 Richmond Grove, Chorlton upon Medlock, Manchester, Lancashire, on 17 January 1863, the third and youngest daughter (there were also three sons) of William Prior Sharp (1824–1897), insurance agent, and his wife, ...

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

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

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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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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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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

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Ashcroft, Dame Edith Margaret Emily [Peggy] (1907–1991), actress, was born on 22 December 1907 in Croydon, Surrey, the second of two children of William Worsley Ashcroft (1878–1918), a land agent, and his wife, Violetta Maud, née Bernheim (1874–1926), a keen amateur actress of Danish and German-Jewish descent. Known from childhood as ...

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Asherson, Renée [real name Dorothy Renée Ascherson] (1915–2014), actress, was born on 19 May 1915 at 2 Cornwall Gardens, Kensington, London, the younger daughter of Charles Stephen Ascherson (1877–1945), a shipowner of German Jewish descent, and his second wife, ...

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Ashwell, Lena [real name Lena Margaret Pocock; married name Lena Margaret Simson, Lady Simson] (1872–1957), actress and theatre manager, was born on 28 September 1872 aboard a training ship moored in the Tyne, the Wellesley, the daughter of Captain Charles Ashwell Botelar Pocock...

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Atkyns [née Walpole], Charlotte (c. 1758–1836), actress and political activist, was probably born in co. Westmeath, Ireland about 1758, according to her later biographers Frédéric Barbey and E. E. P. Tisdall. She was the youngest of three daughters of Robert Walpole (...

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Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

Ayliff, Mrs (fl. 1692–1696), singer and actress, was a leading stage and concert soprano but her forename, age, and marital status are unknown. She appears to have made her début in the première of Purcell's The Fairy Queen at Dorset Garden Theatre in May 1692, singing as a fairy ...