Portrait of Lillie Langtry
Dates:1852 - 1929
Address: Cadogan Hotel, 21 Pont Street, SW1
Dates at address:1892 - 1897
Langtry was born Emilie Charlotte Le Breton on Jersey, daughter of William Le Breton, the dean. Beautiful and ambitious she was a famous socialite, mistress to Prince Edward (later Edward VII) and friend of Gladstone and Peel. She married Edward Langtry in 1874. Their divorce in 1881 damaged Langtry’s popularity for a while but her acting career restored that soon after. She married Hugo Gerald in 1899, becoming Lady De Bathe in 1907.
The original ’it’ girl Langtry was initially a “professional beauty”, selling postcards of her painting by Millais to the public. The Prince later secured her a role in a charity performance, resulting in her debut at the Haymarket in 1881 as Kate Hardcastle in She Stoops to Conquer. Happy to use her reputation to attract audiences, she became a major hit. Founding her own company she toured America between 1882 and 1889, buying a ranch in California. After returning to England she became a prize-winning racehorse owner. After a failed attempt at managing the Imperial Theatre she returned to acting. She also wrote, publishing All At Sea in 1909 and her autobiography in 1925.
On returning from America Langtry settled in Pont Street. She was already well known in Chelsea, with admirers including Wilde and Whistler. Here she continued acting and also began her career as a racehorse owner. She sold the house to the Cadogan Hotel in 1897.
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