The Story of My Life eBook

Ellen Terry
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 455 pages of information about The Story of My Life.

“Oh, I didn’t know it was you,” said Mr. Kean—­but I think he did!  One night I was the innocent cause of a far worse disturbance.  I dozed at the top of the steps and rolled from the top to the bottom with a fearful crash!  Another night I got into trouble for not catching Mrs. Kean when, as Constance, in “King John,” she sank down on to the ground.

“Here is my throne, bid kings come bow to it!”

I was, for my sins, looking at the audience, and Mrs. Kean went down with a run, and was naturally very angry with me!

In 1860 the Keans gave up the management of the Princess’s Theater and went to America.  They traveled in a sailing vessel, and, being delayed by a calm, had to drink water caught in the sails, the water supply having given out.  I believe that although the receipts were wonderful, Charles Kean spent much more than he made during his ten years of management.  Indeed, he confessed as much in a public announcement.  The Princess’s Theater was not very big, and the seats were low-priced.  It is my opinion, however, that no manager with high artistic aims, resolute to carry them out in his own way, can ever make a fortune.

Of the other members of the company during my three years at the Princess’s, I remember best Walter Lacy, who was the William Terriss of the time.  He knew Madame Vestris, and had many entertaining stories about her.  Then there were the Leclercqs, two clever sisters, Carlotta and Rose, who did great things later on.  Men, women and children alike worked hard, and if the language of the actors was more Rabelaisian than polite, they were good fellows and heart and soul devoted to their profession.  Their salaries were smaller and their lives were simpler than is the case with actors now.

Kate and I had been hard at work for some years, but our parents had no notion of our resting.  We were now to show what our training had done for us in “A Drawing-room Entertainment.”




From July to September every year the leading theaters in London and the provincial cities were closed for the summer vacation.  This plan is still adhered to more or less, but in London, at any rate, some theaters keep their doors open all the year round.  During these two months most actors take their holiday, but when we were with the Keans we were not in a position to afford such a luxury.  Kate and I were earning good salaries for our age,[1] but the family at home was increasing in size, and my mother was careful not to let us think that there never could be any rainy days.  I am bound to say that I left questions of thrift, and what we could afford and what we couldn’t entirely to my parents.  I received sixpence a week pocket-money, with which I was more than content for many years.  Poor we may have been at this time, but, owing to my mother’s diligent care

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The Story of My Life from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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