August 7, 2013

Adelaide Neilson (née Elizabeth Ann Brown, 1847-1880), English actress
(photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, late 1860s)

‘The Career of a Noted Actress.
‘From the Balto. Sun.
‘Miss Lilian Adaline [sic] Neilson [i.e Adelaide Neilson], the actress, whose sudden death in Paris, France, Sunday last, has been announced, was born at Saragossa, Spain, March 4, 1850. Her father was a Spaniard and her mother the daughter of an English clergyman. She was educated in England, had some knowledge of the Latin classics, of English literature, French, and was a fair performer on the piano. [But see Wikipedia Her first appearance on the stage was at Margate, England, while yet a child. She was brought out in London at the New Royalty Theatre in July, 1865, in the character of Juliet, which she afterword repeated about 1,200 times. She appeared at the Princess Thatre, London, in July, 1868, in the character of Gabrielle de Savigney, in The Huguenot Capatin, by Watts Phillips. In March, 1867, she played Nellie Armroyd, in Lost in London. In 1868, she appeared in Edinburgh in such parts as Rosalind in As You Like It, Pauline, in The Lady of Lyons, Julia, in The Hunchback, &c. She worked with incessant vigor, and one after another, it great rapidity, assumed leading feminine characters in as many new plays. Dr. Westland Marston wrote for her a piece called Life for Life [Lyceum, London, 6 March 1869], in which she impersonated the character of Lilian in a manner that won her great praise. She made a great hit in London as Amy Robsart in Kenilworth. After a tour of Great Britain she appeared in London at Drury lane, and made a brilliant local hit as Rosalind. Her career in America, from the time of her first appearance here in 1872 at Booth’s Theatre as Juliet, was a triumphal march wherever she chose to play. She paid a second visit to this country in 1874-75. She was again warmly welcomed. She made a third and a fourth visit to this country, entering upon her last engagement at New York in October of last year, and playing in all the principal cities of the country. Her eyes were dark brown, her complexion pale olive, her hairy ruddy brown, her voice rich, soft and melodious, and her physique graceful and healthful. She was once married to a Mr. Joseph Lee, of England. Recently her wardrobe was sold, it is said, in anticipation of her second marriage. Miss Neilson, however, was, according to the New York Times, privately married in London, last August, just before she sailed for America, to Mr. Edward Compton, the actor who supported her in her leading parts last season. The Times thinks this makes the disposition of her estate, supposed to be at least $200,000, irrespective of wardrobe and jewelry, a complicated and delicate one. It has been stated that the American divorce which she obtained from Mr. Lee in New York, in 1877, would not probably stand law in England. Should this turn out to be so, should no heirs of blood present themselves, and should it be ascertained that Mr. Lee has not since married, the question may lead to a long litigation between Mr. Lee and Mr. Compton, who will, of course, assert his claims, and Miss Neilson’s hard-earned fortune will probably be half consumed by the lawyers.’
(The Keystone Courier, Connellsville, Pennsylvania, Friday, 27 August 1880, p. 1f)

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