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Abbot, William (1790–1843), actor  

E. D. Cook

revised by Katharine Cockin

Abbot, William (1790–1843), actor, was born at Chelsea, London, on 12 June 1790. He made his stage début in 1806 at Bath, and remained a member of the Bath company for some seasons. He appeared at the Haymarket in London in the summer of 1808, on the occasion of the benefit of the tragedian ...


Cover Abington, Frances (1737–1815)

Abington, Frances (1737–1815)  

Maker: Sir Joshua Reynolds


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


Abington [née Barton], Frances [Fanny] (1737–1815), actress  

Alison Oddey

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 ...


Cover Achurch, Janet (1863–1916)

Achurch, Janet (1863–1916)  

Maker: Barraud


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


Achurch, Janet [real name Janet Sharp] (1863–1916), actress  

Eric Salmon

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, ...


Actresses’ Franchise League  

Naomi Paxton

Actresses’ Franchise League [AFL] (act. 1908–1958) was formed in 1908 as ‘a bond of union between all women in the Theatrical profession who are in sympathy with the Woman’s Franchise Movement’. The organization was itself ‘strictly neutral in regard to Suffrage Tactics’ and membership was open to women who were or had been ‘connected with the Theatrical profession in any of its branches’. The constitution of the league declared its objectives as being to convince members of the theatrical profession of the necessity of extending the franchise to women on the same terms as men. It would campaign by using what it called ‘educational methods’ including propaganda meetings, and plays, sale of literature, and lectures (...


Adams, (Wilfred) Robert (c. 1900–1965), actor  

Stephen Bourne

Adams, (Wilfred) Robert (c. 1900–1965), actor, was born in Georgetown, British Guiana, the son of Robert Adams, boat builder. He was educated at St Stephen's Scots School, later St Joseph's Intermediate. In 1920 he won a government scholarship to be trained as a teacher at ...


Cover Adams, (Wilfred) Robert (c. 1900–1965)

Adams, (Wilfred) Robert (c. 1900–1965)  

Maker: Frank Lilley


(Wilfred) Robert Adams (c. 1900–1965) by Frank Lilley, 1949 Getty Images – Frank Lilley


Adams, William Bridges- (1889–1965), theatre producer  

Robert Speaight

revised by Stanley Wells

Adams, William Bridges- (1889–1965), theatre producer, was born on 1 March 1889 at 8 Marlborough Villas, Wealdstone, Harrow, the only son of Walter Bridges Adams (d. 1902), tutor, and his wife, Mary Jane Daltry (1854–1939) [see Adams, Mary Jane Bridges-]. Nothing in his background suggested a theatrical career, and he remained to the end of his days a quite untheatrical person. But he was brought up on ...


Addison [née Wilmshurst], Laura (1822–1852), actress  

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...


Cover Addison, Laura (1822–1852)

Addison, Laura (1822–1852)  

Maker: W.? Hollis


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


Adler, Jacob (1855–1926), actor  

Joel Berkowitz

Adler, Jacob (1855–1926), actor, was born on 1 January 1855 in Odessa, Ukraine, the son of Feivl Abramovich, an Orthodox Jewish wheat merchant, and his wife, Hesye. Of the twelve children of Hesye and Feivl (she had one son with her first husband, whom she divorced), only ...


Adrian, Max [real name Max Bor] (1903–1973), actor  

John Elsom

Adrian, Max [real name Max Bor] (1903–1973), actor, was born on 1 November 1903 in northern Ireland, the son of Edward Norman Cavendish Bor and his wife, Mabel Lloyd, née Thornton. He was educated at Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, renowned for its teaching of English, whose past pupils included ...


Agate, James Evershed (1877–1947), drama critic  

Ivor Brown

revised by Marc Brodie

Agate, James Evershed (1877–1947), drama critic, was born at Pendleton, Lancashire, on 9 September 1877, the eldest of the five sons and one daughter of Charles James Agate (1832–1909), cotton manufacturer's agent, and his wife, Eulalie Julia Young, daughter of a widowed piano teacher. Although generally regarded during his lifetime as the writer from ...


Cover Agate, James Evershed (1877–1947)

Agate, James Evershed (1877–1947)  

Maker: Howard Coster


James Evershed Agate (1877–1947) by Howard Coster, 1934 © National Portrait Gallery, London


Aggas, Robert (c. 1620–c. 1682), landscape and scene painter  

W. C. Monkhouse

revised by Arianne Burnette

Aggas, Robert (c. 1620–c. 1682), landscape and scene painter, was the son of Samuel Agas of St Andrew's parish, Holborn. The family was originally from Stoke by Nayland in Suffolk. Samuel Agas was the son of Edward Aggas, a bookseller and printer, and relative of ...


Aherne, (William) Brian de Lacy (1902–1986), actor  

David Parkinson

Aherne, (William) Brian de Lacy (1902–1986), actor, was born on 2 May 1902 at The Pleasaunce, King's Norton, Worcestershire, the son of William Lacy Ahern (1867–1945) (who later amended his name to Willoughby de Lacy Aherne), architect, and his wife, Annie ...


Aickin, Francis (c. 1735–1812), actor  

Peter Thomson

Aickin, Francis (c. 1735–1812), actor, was born in Dublin. After a brief period of work in his father's weaving business, in 1754 he followed his younger brother James Aickin into the theatre, and over the next ten years performed in most of Ireland's...


Aickin, James (c. 1736–1803), actor  

Peter Thomson

Aickin, James (c. 1736–1803), actor, was born in Dublin, the younger son of a weaver. While still under the age of twenty he joined an Irish theatre company, thus setting a precedent which his older brother Francis Aickin would soon follow. Aickin made a sufficient impression to earn himself a place at the ...


Ainley, Henry Hinchliffe (1879–1945), actor  

S. R. Littlewood

revised by K. D. Reynolds

Ainley, Henry Hinchliffe (1879–1945), actor, was born at Morley, near Leeds, on 21 August 1879, the only son and eldest child of Richard Ainley (1851–1919), cloth finisher, and his wife, Ada Hinchliffe (1850–1928). After education at the church school of ...