Henry Irving


The Henry Irving Archive:

Digital Resources for Scholars and Students



Henry Irving

The standard biography, as yet unsurpassed, is Laurence Irving, Henry Irving: The Actor and His World (Faber & Faber, 1951). Irving's life is placed into the wider Victorian cultural context by Jeffrey Richards in Sir Henry Irving: An Actor and His World (Hambledon & London, 2005). Irving did not write an autobiography.

Dictionary of National Biography entry   (Oxford University Press, 2004; subscription/password required)

Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, 1911:
Irving, Sir Henry (1838-1905), English actor, whose original name was John Brodribb, was born at Keinton-Mandeville, Somerset, on the 6th of February 1838. After a few years' schooling he became a clerk to a firm of East India merchants in London, but he soon gave up a commercial career and started as an actor. On the 29th of September 1856 he made his first appearance at Sunderland as Gaston, duke of Orleans, in Bulwer Lytton's Richelieu, billed as Henry Irving. Read more...

Souvenir of Sir Henry Irving: An Anecdotal, Biographical, and Critical Monograph by Walter Calvert, published in 1895, the year Irving was knighted. This pamphlet features nearly 50 illustrations, including non-theatrical portraits, scenes from plays, and photographs of Irving's Grafton Street home, as well as a list of parts and premieres, short accounts of specific productions, and information about the Lyceum's staff. [PDF]


Ellen Terry

Terry wrote a charming, if somewhat rambling, autobiography that remains a classic nearly a century after it was published: The Story of My Life (London: Hutchinson, 1908). Some order was imposed, and detailed annotations provided, in a later version edited by Christopher St. John and Terry's daughter Edith Craig (New York: Putnam, 1932).

Dictionary of National Biography entry   (Oxford University Press, 2004; subscription/password required)

Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, 1911:

Terry, Ellen Alicia (1848-1928), English actress, was born at Coventry on the 27th of February 1848. [Note: this is incorrect; she was born in 1847.] Her parents were well-known provincial actors, and her sisters Kate, Marion and Florence, and her brother Fred, all joined the theatrical profession, and her own first appearance on the stage was made on the 28th of April 1856, under the Keans' management, as the boy Mamilius in The Winter's Tale, at the Princess's Theatre, London. Read more...

Online exhibition: Ellen Terry at the Family Records Centre, London

The documents that make up this online exhibition help untangle a complicated life story that included three marriages and a further relationship that produced two children.

Chronology of Ellen Terry's Life: The Coventry and Warwickshire Network

This page provides an overview of key personal and professional events in Terry's life.

Smallhythe Place, Ellen Terry's house in Tenterden, Kent, is a National Trust property open to visitors from March to October.

For additional biographical sources on Irving and Terry, see Henry Irving Archive: Bibliography.

Henry Irving Archive: Home

This site is managed by Kristan Tetens (Michigan State University) in partnership with the Irving Society (UK), which promotes the study of the life of the English actor-manager Henry Irving (1838-1905), his artistic achievement at the Lyceum Theatre with partner Ellen Terry (1847-1928), and his contribution to Victorian culture. For more information on Victorian theatre history, including bibliographies and links to online resources, visit the Victorian Theatre Research Web at www.msu.edu/~tetenskr/index.html.