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Dame Irene Vanbrugh

(1872—1949) actress


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(1872–1949), English actress, sister of Violet (below) and wife of the younger Dion Boucicault. She made her first appearance in London in 1888, and was later with Alexander at the St James's Theatre, where she played Gwendolen Fairfax in the first production of Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). She made her first outstanding success as Sophie Fullgarney in The Gay Lord Quex (1899) by Pinero, of whose heroines she became the leading exponent, having already played Ellean in The Second Mrs Tanqueray on tour in 1894 and Rose in Trelawny of the ‘Wells’ on its first production in 1898. She subsequently created the title-role in Letty (1903) and Nina Jesson in His House in Order (1906). She was also much admired in Barrie's plays, particularly The Admirable Crichton (1902), Alice Sit-By-The-Fire (1905), and Rosalind (1912). In 1907 she appeared in the first public performance of Shaw's The Man of Destiny, playing opposite the Napoleon of her husband. She was again seen in Shaw when she played Catherine of Braganza in In Good King Charles's Golden Days at the Malvern Festival in 1939, having celebrated her stage jubilee the previous year. The theatre at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, one of London's outstanding schools of drama, was named after her and her sister by their brother Sir Kenneth Barnes, who was Principal of the school for many years.

From The Concise Oxford Companion to the Theatre in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Theatre.


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