The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

 
 
 
Ada Cavendish

Ada Cavendish


A carte-de-visite portrait of the British actress Ada Cavendish (1839-1895), known for her Shakespearean roles and for popularising the plays of Wilkie Collins in America. She is seen here dressed as Mercy Merrick in a dramatisation of Collins’s novel The New Magdalen (1873). ‘Its heroine, Mercy Merrick, is a fallen woman who goes as a nurse to the Franco-Prussian War where she is shot and left for dead. Mercy recovers, and changes identities with another (supposedly) dead woman, Grace Roseberry, leading to inevitable complications and final redemption at the hands of an idealistic clergyman’ [John Sutherland, The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction, 2009].

Cavendish made her stage début in 1863, subsequently appearing in musical burlesques by FC Burnand and others. She later became known for playing such Shakespearean heroines as Juliet, Beatrice and Rosalind; she also famously played the title role of Miss Gwilt in the stage adaptation of Armadale and Mercy Merrick in The New Magdalen, both by Wilkie Collins. She married Frank Marshall (1840-1889), who published a scholarly edition of Shakespeare.

She died on 5 October 1895 and was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery in London.

Photographer unidentified.

 

Code: 125913
 
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