Archive’s focus on actress Adelaide Neilson's life

Archive’s focus on actress Adelaide Neilson's life

Adelaide Neilson

The programme for one of her performances

First published in News

She was a renowned Shakespearean actress who took America by storm, but today the name Adelaide Neilson will mean nothing to most people.

But a fascinating insight into the life of the famous beauty whose success spanned two continents is given in a historical society’s archive.

The actress who grew up in Guiseley went on to enjoy fame and fortune both in England and in America, where she was the darling of theatrical society.

She is pictured in the online archive of Aireborough Historical Society, which gives a glimpse into the story of her success and her untimely death at the age of 32.

Her career in theatre was launched when she left home in 1861 at the age of 13, changing her name to Adelaide Neilson. Within the space of a few years she became a well-known actress, winning praise for her portrayals of Shakespearean heroines.

Her success led to tours of America where she won critical acclaim and popular adoration.

Archivist Carlo Harrison said: “She returned to Guiseley on several occasions to visit her family causing much excitement in the town.”

She died suddenly in 1880 after being taken ill on holiday in France.

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