By Margaret Leask
Skillfully written and complemented with photographs, this biography is the 1st to honor British actress-manager Lena Ashwell. In a speedily altering global, Ashwell was once an important to the development of girls in English theater and within the formation of the nationwide Theater. The book highlights the inspiring woman’s different helpful accomplishments to boot, together with her efforts to elevate cash in the course of international struggle I for hundreds of thousands of concert-party troop entertainments and normal theater performances she tested all through neighborhood London groups. From her first visual appeal on level in 1891 to the top of her existence, this can be Lena Ashwell’s tale.
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Extra info for Lena Ashwell: Actress, Patriot, Pioneer
As it was, she was never associated with any leading actor as his leading lady – an association of which there were many examples at the time – except on a play-by-play basis. She had reached a critical point in her career. While still a supporter of the system of the actor-manager, there were disadvantages: When I had been ill and unable to play the public had asked for their money to be returned. There was nothing ungenerous or unreasonable in the fact that the actor-manager needed to keep the attention of the public on himself … For that reason – or perhaps at the moment there were no criminals ready for me to act – I bought a French play, re-named Marguerite, and took the plunge into management alone … I was afraid of London and went on tour, thinking I should gain the experience I needed cheaper, as all touring is on sharing terms.
113 Truth, 26 February 1903. 114 Sketch, 25 February 1903. 115 Sun, 19 February 1903. When a French company brought Resurrection to the Royalty Theatre, London, in 1906, critics found Berthe Bady as Katusha less impressive than Ashwell. Reviews are included in Lena Ashwell Scrapbooks 1891 to 1914: TM 6055. 116 Ashwell, Myself a Player, 123. 117 World, 3 March 1903. 118 Daily Chronicle, 6 April 1903. 119 The other plays were Pinero’s Letty and Ernest Willett’s A White Passion Flower (Era, 9 January 1904).
By early August she was preparing for Beerbohm Tree’s revival of his 1898 Julius Caesar at Her Majesty’s. Tree was again playing Mark Antony and Ashwell replaced Evelyn Millard as Portia. While critics acknowledged her intelligence and sincerity, she was not an obvious choice for Shakespeare’s women: Ashwell’s engagement for the part of Portia was an interesting experiment, and the note of sexual passion always evident in this sympathetic actress’s voice lends much tenderness to the wife’s appeal to Brutus.
Lena Ashwell: Actress, Patriot, Pioneer by Margaret Leask