The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Lillie Langtry

Lillie Langtry

A carte-de-visite portrait of Lillie Langtry (1853-1929), English actress and courtesan, who for a while became the semi-official mistress of the future Edward VII. When Edward once complained, ‘I’ve spent enough on you to buy a battleship,’ Lillie retorted, ‘And you’ve spent enough in me to float one!’

Born Emilie Charlotte Le Breton, the daughter of a rector, she married Edward Langtry in 1874. She first appeared professionally in London in 1881; her greatest success was as Rosalind in Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Her first husband having died in 1897, she married Sir Hugh de Bathe in 1899. She died in Monaco in 1929 and was buried in the churchyard of St Savour’s in Jersey, the church where her father had been rector.

She was known as ‘the Jersey Lily’ from her birthplace and was considered to be one of the most beautiful women of her day. When she walked into restaurants, people would stand on chairs to get a better look at her.

Photographed by William and Daniel Downey of London and Newcastle.


Code: 125303
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