Ellen Terry collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Terry to Robert Falcon Scott written during the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904.

Administrative / Biographical History

(Alice) Ellen Terry was born in Coventry in 1847, the daughter of an actor and actress. In 1856, she made her first appearance on the stage as the boy Mamillius in The Winter's Tale at the Princess's Theatre, London. After a brief marriage in 1864 to the painter, George Frederic Watts, Terry established herself as Britain's foremost Shakespearean actress. In 1878, she began an association with Henry Irving at the Lyceum, playing the leading female parts in all Irving's productions until 1896. After parting from Irving, Terry became an actor-manager in 1903, helping to popularise the work of Henrik Ibsen and George Bernard Shaw. Between 1910 and 1915, she went on a lecture-tour of the United States, England and Australia. In 1925, she was created G.B.E. Declining into blindness and with failing health; she died in 1928 at Tenterden, Kent.


The correspondence is arranged chronologically.

Access Information

By appointment.

Some materials deposited at the Institute are NOT owned by the Institute. In such cases the archivist will advise about any requirements imposed by the owner. These may include seeking permission to read, extended closure, or other specific conditions.


Anyone wishing to consult material should ensure they note the entire MS reference and the name of the originator.

The term holograph is used when the item is wholly in the handwriting of the author. The term autograph is used when the author has signed the item.

Descriptions compiled by N. Boneham, Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to Spartacus Educational and Dictionary of National Biography, 1922-1930, Oxford University Press London (1937) and Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events, (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN 0521309034

Other Finding Aids

Clive Holland Manuscripts in the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England - a catalogue, Garland Publishing, New York and London (1982) ISBN 0824093941.

Additional finding aids are available at the Institute.

Conditions Governing Use

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Further accessions possible.