Atwood was born in 1866 at Richmond, London, the only daughter of Frederick Atwood, an architect, and his wife, Clara Becker. Named Clara at birth, she later used the form Clare and was also known as Tony. Atwood studied at Westminster School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art. She first exhibited at the New English Art Club in 1893, becoming a member in 1912. She held an exhibition of her work at the Carfax Gallery in 1911. In 1917, during World War I, she was commissioned to paint war scenes for the Canadian Government through the Canadian War Memorials Fund. The Fund arranged for Atwood to visit the military camp at Folkestone in Kent to gather ideas for the work. However, instead Atwood decided to paint a YMCA canteen at one of London’s railway stations, where enlisted men were waiting for a train to take them to camps or to the front. In 1920 she was commissioned for four war paintings by the Imperial War Museum.
Edith Ailsa Craig (1869–1947) by Clare Atwood, Collection: National Trust, Smallhythe Place
'Vita' (The Honourable Victoria Mary) Sackville-West (1892–1962), Later Lady Nicholson, in Dame Ellen Terry's 1875 Costume for Portia in William Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice', Knole, 1910 by Clare Atwood, Collection: National Trust, Smallhythe Place
Billingsgate Fish Market, London by Clare Atwood, Collection: National Trust, Smallhythe Place
Christmas Day in the London Bridge Young Men's Christian Association Canteen: Her Royal Highness Princess Helena Victoria, Mrs Norrie and Miss Ellen Terry by Clare Atwood, Collection: IWM (Imperial War Museums)
Dame Ellen Terry (1847–1928), Aged 79 by Clare Atwood, Collection: National Trust, Smallhythe Place
Dame Ellen Terry (1847–1928), as a Young Woman (after the original of 1864/1865 by George Frederic Watts) by Clare Atwood, Collection: National Trust, Smallhythe Place
Devonshire House, 1918: Voluntary Aid Detachment Workers Filing Papers in the Ballroom by Clare Atwood, Collection: IWM (Imperial War Museums)
Dish of Apples and a Pear by Clare Atwood, Collection: University of Oxford, Department of Social Policy and Intervention
Eleanor ('Nellie') Terry (1904–1975) by Clare Atwood, Collection: National Trust, Smallhythe Place
Finis by Clare Atwood, Collection: Victoria Art Gallery
Interior of the Barn Theatre, Smallhythe Place: Edith Ailsa Craig (1869–1947), Charles Staite and Irene Cooper Willis by Clare Atwood, Collection: National Trust, Smallhythe Place
Interior of the Coach-Wheelwright's Shop at 4 1/2 Marshall Street, Soho, London by Clare Atwood, Collection: Museum of London
John Gielgud's Room by Clare Atwood, Collection: Tate
Michael Chaplin (b.1911) by Clare Atwood, Collection: National Trust, Smallhythe Place
Olympia in War Time: Royal Army Clothing Depot by Clare Atwood, Collection: IWM (Imperial War Museums)
Portrait of an Unknown Young Man with a Book in a Library by Clare Atwood, Collection: National Trust, Smallhythe Place
Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree (1852–1917), Rehearsing 'Henry VIII' by William Shakespeare at His Majesty's Theatre by Clare Atwood, Collection: Victoria and Albert Museum
Sunday, St Paul's Church, Covent Garden by Clare Atwood, Collection: National Trust, Smallhythe Place
The Dining Room at Smallhythe Place by Clare Atwood, Collection: National Trust, Smallhythe Place
The Luxembourg Gardens, Paris by Clare Atwood, Collection: National Trust, Smallhythe Place
The Luxembourg Gardens, Paris by Clare Atwood, Collection: National Trust, Smallhythe Place
The Rehearsal, Drury Lane by Clare Atwood, Collection: National Trust, Fenton House
The Saloon Bar at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane by Clare Atwood, Collection: National Trust, Smallhythe Place
The Terrace outside the Priest's House by Clare Atwood, Collection: National Trust, Smallhythe Place
Victoria Station, 1918: The Green Cross Corps (Women's Reserve Ambulance), Guiding Soldiers on Leave by Clare Atwood, Collection: IWM (Imperial War Museums)
A lesbian, in 1916 she joined the writer Christabel Marshall and the actress and stage director Edith Craig in a ménage à trois at Tenterden in Kent until Craig's death in 1947, according to Michael Holroyd in his book A Strange Eventful History. Atwood designed props for several of Edith Craig's productions with the Pioneer Players, including the 16 foot high crucifix for their production of Paul Claudel's The Hostage. Atwood was a member of the Pioneer Players. Atwood occasionally performed at the Barn Theatre at Smallhythe Place in Kent, which was founded by Craig to stage performances in memory of her late mother, the actress Ellen Terry. Atwood acted in the matinée at the Palace Theatre, London on 23 April 1929, held to raise funds for the Ellen Terry Memorial. In July 1932, Atwood decorated the shoe for Craig's production of The Shoe in Tenterden. After Craig's death, Atwood wrote an essay about Craig.
Atwood's paintings are exhibited in the Tate Collection in London, as well as in Glasgow, Manchester and Liverpool. She exhibited at the Royal Academy, and in 1940 one of her paintings was purchased by the National Art Gallery of New Zealand.
Atwood suffered a fractured femur, senile myocarditis and heart failure, and died at Kench Hill Nursing Home, Tenterden, Kent, on 2 August 1962.
Christabel Gertrude Marshall (aka Christopher Marie St John) (24 October 1871 – 20 October 1960) was a British campaigner for women's suffrage, a playwright and author. Marshall lived in a ménage à trois with the artist Clare Atwood and the actress, theatre director, producer and costume designer Edith Craig from 1916 until Craig's death in 1947.
Born in Exeter, she was the youngest of nine children of Emma Marshall, née Martin (1828–1899), novelist, and Hugh Graham Marshall (c.1825–1899), manager of the West of England Bank. She changed her name on her conversion to Catholicism in adulthood. Having taken a BA in Modern History at Somerville College, Oxford, Marshall became the secretary to Mrs Humphry Ward, Lady Randolph Churchill and, occasionally, to her son Winston Churchill.
In order to pursue her aim of becoming a dramatist, Marshall went on the stage for three years to learn stagecraft, and occasionally acted as secretary to Ellen Terry. She lived with Terry's daughter Edith Craig from 1899 to Craig's death in 1947. They lived together at Smith Square and then 31 Bedford Street, Covent Garden as well as Priest's House, Tenterden, Kent. Their relationship became temporarily strained when Craig received, and accepted, a marriage proposal from the composer Martin Shaw in 1903, and Marshall attempted suicide. In 1916 Marshall and Craig were joined by the artist Clare 'Tony' Atwood, living in a ménage à trois until Craig died in 1947, according to Michael Holroyd in his book A Strange Eventful History. In 1900 Marshall published her first novel, The Crimson Weed, which takes its title from a transformation of the traditional symbol of the red rose. A feminist, in 1909 she joined the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), having previously worked for the Women Writers' Suffrage League and the Actresses' Franchise League.
Edith Craig, Clare Atwood and Christabel Marshall in the garden of Priest's House at Smallhythe Place, ca 1920
Edith Craig was a prolific theatre director, producer, costume designer and early pioneer of the women's suffrage movement in England. She was the daughter of actress Ellen Terry and architect-designer Edward William Godwin. She lived with Christabel Marshall (Christopher St. John) from 1899 until they were joined in 1916 by the artist Clare 'Tony' Atwood, living togehter until Craig's death in 1947. Virginia Woolf is said to have used Edith Craig as a model for Miss LaTrobe in Between the Acts.
In 1909 Marshall turned Cicely Hamilton's short story How The Vote Was Won into a play that became popular with women's suffrage groups throughout the United Kingdom. Also in 1909, Marshall joined a WSPU deputation to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, contributing an article Why I Went on the Deputation to the journal Votes for Women in July 1909. In November 1909 Marshall appeared as the woman-soldier Hannah Snell in Cicely Hamilton's Pageant of Great Women, directed by Edith Craig. With Hamilton she also wrote The Pot and the Kettle (1909), and with woman writer Charles Thursby, The Coronation (1912). In May 1911 her play The First Actress was one of the three plays in the first production of Craig's theatre society, the Pioneer Players. Marshall's plays Macrena and On the East Side were produced by the Pioneer Players, as well as her translation (with Marie Potapenko) of The Theatre of the Soul by Nikolai Evreinov.
Marshall converted to Catholicism in 1912 and took the name St John. She, Edith Craig and Clare Atwood were friends with many artists and writers including lesbian novelist Radclyffe Hall, who lived nearby in Rye. As Christopher St John in 1915, she published her autobiographical novel Hungerheart, which she had started in 1899, and which she based on her relationship with Edith Craig and her own involvement in the women's suffrage movement. St John was contracted by Ellen Terry to assist on various publications. After Terry's death in 1928, St John published the Shaw–Terry Correspondence (1931) and Terry's Four Lectures on Shakespeare (1932). St John and Craig revised and edited Terry's Memoirs (1933). After Edith Craig's death in 1947, St John and Atwood helped to keep the Ellen Terry Memorial Museum in operation. Some of St John's papers have survived in the National Trust's Ellen Terry and Edith Craig Archive.
Marshall died from pneumonia connected with heart disease at Tenterden in 1960.
Edith Ailsa Geraldine Craig (9 December 1869 – 27 March 1947) was a prolific theatre director, producer, costume designer and early pioneer of the women's suffrage movement in England. She was the daughter of Victorian era actress Ellen Terry and the progressive English architect-designer Edward William Godwin, and the sister of theatre practitioner Edward Gordon Craig. (©Alfred Ellis (active 1884-1899)/NPG x6993. Edith Ailsa Geraldine Craig, 1895 (©19))
As a lesbian, an active campaigner for women's suffrage, and a woman working as a theatre director, Edith Craig has been recovered by feminist scholars as well as theatre historians. Craig lived in a ménage à trois with the dramatist Christabel Marshall and the artist Clare 'Tony' Atwood from 1916 until her death.
Edith 'Edy' Craig, like her younger brother Edward, was illegitimate, as her mother, Ellen Terry, was still married to her first husband George Frederic Watts when she eloped with Godwin in 1868. Edith Craig was born the following year at Gusterwoods Common in Hertfordshire, and was given the surname 'Craig' to avoid the stigma of illegitimacy. Terry was looked after carefully by her mother. Ellen believed that disruptive colors and unsightly objects could have a negative effect on Edith's growth and behavior. The family lived in Fallows Green, Harpenden in Hertfordshire, designed by Godwin, until 1874. The couple separated in 1875. In 1877 Terry married her second husband, Charles Wardell, who became a father figure for the children leading to Craig taking the name Wardell. However, in 1907 Terry married her third husband, James Carew, whom Edith Craig did not like. Craig and her mother,Terry, had a strained relationship, and Craig openly felt that her mother favorited her brother, Edward. As a young child, Craig was harshly criticized by her mother, leaving scars and insecurities that were carried with Craig into adulthood.
©George Frederic Watts (1817-1904)/NPG 5048. “Choosing” (Ellen Terry), ca. 1864 (©4)
Craig was educated at Mrs Cole's school, a co-educational institution in Earls Court in London, and at the Royal Academy of Music. Craig made her first appearance on the stage in 1878 during the run of Olivia at the Royal Court Theatre. She trained as a pianist under Alexis Hollander in Berlin in Germany from 1887 to 1890. She also occasionally studied under Elizabeth Malleson of Dixton Manor Hall, Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, one of the pioneers of Women's Suffrage.
Craig joined the Lyceum Theatre company as a costume designer and actress, touring America in 1895 and 1907 under the stage name Ailsa Craig. Edith was not a particularly spectacular actress but, she was noted for her expertise in historically accurate costumes and began to gain recognition for them. Like her younger brother, Craig appeared with Henry Irving in a number of plays, including The Bells (1895). In 1895 her performances in Pinero's Bygones and Charles Reade's The Lyons Mail respectively were praised by George Bernard Shaw and Eleonora Duse. George Bernard Shaw was a family friend of Craig's, he wrote several roles specifically for her. In Bernard Shaw’s play Candida, it is believed that the role of Prossy was created for Craig, who originally played the role. Prossy is described as being a sexually autonomous woman who did not abide by society's definition of what a woman should be. She lived a vastly different life from most females of her time. She chose to remain unmarried and live with other women. This description, from what historians can tell, is almost identical to Craig’s life during the time the play was being written and originally produced.
Craig also acted in plays by George Bernard Shaw and Henrik Ibsen, toured with Mrs Brown-Potter and the Independent Theatre. In 1899, Irving employed her to make the costumes for his production of Robespierre, which led to her going into business as a dressmaker. Although her studio in Covent Garden was well patronised, it was more successful artistically than financially and had a short life. After Ellen Terry left the Lyceum Theatre and went into management, Craig accompanied her on her tours in the English provinces and America as her stage-director, and from then play-production became her chief occupation.
Craig founded the 'Pioneer Players' (1911-1925), a theatre society based in London that produced plays supportive of women's suffrage and other social reforms and, from 1915, plays in translation which associated them with art theatre. The Pioneer Players were known for producing formerly banned plays, plays on social humanism, and foreign plays in addition to suffrage and feminist works. This allowed the group to reach beyond the Actresses Franchise League and to be accepted into mainstream English theatre. Craig's mother, Ellen Terry, was president of the society. Craig served as the managing director / stage director, her partner, Chris St. John served as the secretary, there were also nine members that made up an advisory committee, including George Bernard Shaw, Mrs. Bernard Shaw and the President Gabrielle Enthoven. The Pioneer Players has been described by some critics as a women's theatre company, for whom Craig produced 150 plays. Her work with the Pioneer Players undoubtable helped Edith become known as "a pioneer responsible for the ever increasing opportunities for women in theatre".
After the 'Pioneer Players' finally closed, Craig produced plays for the 'Little Theatre' movement at York, Leeds, Letchworth and Hampstead. In 1919, she was an important figure in the British Drama League (BDL), which had been formed to promote theatre throughout the United Kingdom, and to encourage a lasting peace after World War I. Later Craig directed the Everyman Theatre Hampstead and Leeds Art Theatre. In 1929, the year after Ellen Terry's death, Craig converted the Elizabethan barn adjacent to Terry's house at Smallhythe Place into a theatre which she named The Barn Theatre. Here she produced Shakespeare every year to commemorate the anniversary of her mother's death. Craig also appeared in a number of silent films.
Craig was involved in many suffrage groups, and sold newspapers on behalf of that cause in the street. After she met a woman selling newspapers for the Women's Freedom she became a member and worked at branch level for that group. She did not fully understand the meaning of suffragism, but formed strong opinions about it quickly. She stated that's "[she] grew up quite firmly certain that no self-respecting woman could be other than a suffragist". Craig used her theatrical experience on behalf of the Actresses' Franchise League and was also involved in various suffrage productions. She directed A Pageant of Great Women, a play she devised with the writer and actor Cicely Hamilton, after encouraging Hamilton to write the play. It which was performed across the United Kingdom before large audiences. "A Pageant of Great Women" followed the concept of a morality play in which the main character, Woman, is confronted by the antagonist, Prejudice, who believes that men and women are not equal. Another leading character, “Justice” proceeds to travel through time with Prejudice and Woman and introduce them to historical female figures, who prove Prejudice wrong again and again. Edith was actually inspired by a cartoon she saw of Woman chained to the feet of Justice, which moved her to develop this concept.The play is written with so many characters that it can easily have forty to ninety women in the cast, each with a speaking role. The women were categorized as The Learned Women, The Heroic Women, The Artists, The Saintly Women, The Rulers, and The Warriors. Craig frequently played the role of Rosa Bonheur, a lesbian artist. It is speculated that Craig used this role as a form of her own identity as a lesbian.
The composer Martin Shaw proposed to her in 1903 and was accepted. However, the marriage was prevented by Ellen Terry, out of jealousy for her daughter's affection, and by Christabel Marshall (Christopher St. John), with whom she lived from 1899 until they were joined in 1916 by the artist Clare 'Tony' Atwood, living in a ménage à trois until Craig's death in 1947, according to Michael Holroyd in his book A Strange Eventful History. Her lesbian lifestyle was looked down upon by her family. Her brother Edward said Edith's sexuality was a result of her "hatred of men, initiated by the hatred of her father". Craig became involved in several books about her mother and George Bernard Shaw which created a rift in the relationship with her brother, who asked Craig not to write about their mother, and specifically not to share the details of the family's innermost problems. Edward Gordon Craig's book Ellen Terry and her Secret Self (1931) explicitly objected to Ellen Terry and Bernard Shaw: a Correspondence (1931) edited by Christopher St. John. In 1932 Craig co-edited with St. John Ellen Terry's Memoirs in which she replied to her brother's representation of their mother. Also in 1932 Craig adopted Ruby Chelta Craig. Craig was reconciled with her brother some time before her death.
On the death of her mother Craig changed, and committed her life to preserving her mother's legacy. She opened the family home, Smallhythe Place in Kent, England to the public. From 1939 she was supported in running the house by the National Trust. On her death she left Smallhythe Place to the National Trust as a memorial to her mother. Craig died of coronary thrombosis and chronic myocarditis on 27 March 1947 at Priest's House, Smallhythe Place while planning a Shakespeare festival in honor of her mother. Her body was cremated. Many believe the lack of recognition given to her was a direct result of society's disapproval of lesbian culture.
Edith Craig suffered from acute arthritis especially in her hands. In her younger days, this painful condition prevented her from becoming a professional musician. She attended the Royal Academy of Music and held a certificate in piano from Trinity College. In her later years, after the death of her mother, wishing to write her own memoirs, Craig had to resort to dictating to her friend Vera Holme, known as 'Jacko'. Jacko wrote down Craig's memoirs in a quarto notebook which was 'lost in an attic' for decades and then sold to Ann Rachlin in 1978. Craig's personal reminiscences of her childhood and her life with Ellen Terry, Edward Gordon Craig and Henry Irving, are printed in their entirety in Rachlin's book Edy was a Lady, published in December 2011.
Virginia Woolf is said to have used Edith Craig as a model for the character of Miss LaTrobe in her novel Between the Acts (1941).
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=e
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Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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