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Ellen Terry was born into an acting family in Coventry on 27th February 1848. She first appeared on stage at the age of eight playing "Mamillius" in The Winter's Tale. In 1863 she made her début at the Haymarket. Despite her increasing success Ellen willingly sacrificed her early career to marry the painter George Frederick Watts who was thirty years her senior however the marriage failed within a year and in 1874 she agreed to return to the stage. Her success was re-kindled when in 1875 she played 'Portia' to great acclaim, and her performance as "Olivia" in The Vicar of Wakefield at the Lyceum Theatre was warmly received. She married the actor Charles Kelly in the same year but this marriage also proved unsuccessful. When Henry Irving purchased the Lyceum he invited Ellen to join his company and this partnership was to lead to ever increasing success, one particular triumph came in1895 with Irving's performance as King Arthur with Ellen Terry as Guinevere. Ellen continued to act with Irving for many years. In 1906 she celebrated 50 years on the stage, and late in her career even appeared on the silver screen. Her life came to a close on 21st July 1928.
George Bernard Shaw said of her - "Ellen Terry is the most beautiful name in the world, it rings like a chime through the last quarter of the 19th century".