Aireborough Historical Society

1880 Adelaide Neilson Death

Adelaide Neilson

Adelaide Neilson
Date 1880
Location Paris
Photo ID
Comment Adelaide Neilson although born in Leeds was brought up and lived in Guiseley with her family, her Father being a Painter and Decorator.
She developed an early stage career and became known as a superb... Shakespearean Actress in the UK which led to tours of the USA.
Adelaide was born in 1848 and died in 1880.

From an copy of the original article sent to us by Edwy Harling, Christine Lovedale has given us this report as published by a Dublin newspaper covering the death of Adelaide.

"Death of Adelaide Neilson 1880
Adelaide Neilson was a celebrated actress with links to Guiseley, she died aged 32 in Paris.
The following is a precis of a report in the "Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser (Dublin) Monday August 23rd 1880" The article was lurid and speculative, Victorian "red-top" journalism at it's worst and titled "Odds and Ends From Paris".
After an exhausting tour of America, Adelaide was on her way to the south of France.
The journey was broken in Paris, where she stayed at the Continental Hotel with her companion Mrs Goodall and a man called Edward? who she had met in America and intended to marry.
The newspaper reports that on the Saturday evening Adelaide was feeling unwell, a doctor was called who questioned her mental health and prescribed laudanam-- an opium substance much used and abused at that time.
The following day the three went for a ride along the Bois de Boulogne when Adelaide became ill, she was taken into the Chalet restaurant complaining of severe stomach pains and died shortly after.
As was the custom in France her body was taken to the public mortuary where a post- mortem was performed, this greatly distressed her companions who felt it undignified and disrespectful.
She was declared to have died from "congestion of the brain arising from natural causes", in fact a blood vessel in her abdomen had ruptured!
The reporter tries to imply that death was caused by an accidental overdose of laudanam which spices things up for his readers.
Adelaide's body was brought back to London and buried at Brompton Cemetery, London.
A full account of Adelaide's story can be found in "An Aireborough Selection", edited by Martin Rigg, M.T.D Rigg Publications 1991 "

Further information about the life of Adelaide Nelson here:

More photographs of her can be found at the National Portrait Gallery website:
28 November 2017
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