Aireborough Historical Society

Neilson, Adelaide

Adelaide Neilson

Adelaide Neilson
Date Various Dates
Location Guiseley
Photo ID
M046 + C192 + M067 + M172 + M173 + M177 + M179 + M069 & M176
1: Adelaide Neilson was born in 1848 at 35 St Peter's Square Leeds her mother's family home. 
She was named Elizabeth after her mother Elizabeth Anne Brown. 
Elizabeth Anne came from a large family who worked in the clothing trade, she was a skilled needle woman with aspirations to act.
Her career began in pantomime where she met the father of her child, he wanted no ties and made no claim to his daughter, Elizabeth Anne returned to her family and resumed sewing.
    On the 7th March 1850 Elizabeth Anne married Samuel Bland at St Mary's Church Quarry Hill, he proved to be a caring stepfather to young Elizabeth. In 1859 they had a son Charles, by this time the family had moved to Guiseley and were living at Greenbottom, Samuel made a living as a plumber and painter.
      Elizabeth attended the Primitive Methodist Chapel and Sunday School on Otley Road, she became a nurse-maid for the Padgett Family who lived at Hawkhill House. Perhaps influenced by her mother's tales of life on the stage she left home for London in 1861 aged only 13!
It was then she decided to call herself Adelaide Neilson and became moderately successful in gaining acting roles.
     At 16 she married Philip Henry Lee, this is thought to be her wedding photo. 
She was well established as an actress by 1868, renowned for her portrayals of Shakespearean heroines. 
Her reputation led to tours of the USA where she was very well received, her marriage ended in 1877 when she and her husband were divorced. 
On holiday in France she was taken ill and died suddenly in 1880.
    She returned to Guiseley on several occasions to visit her family causing much excitement in the town. 
After her death she was interred at Brompton. 

2: An article about Adelaide Neilson which appeared in the Wharfedale Observer.
3:An actress who spent her childhood in Guiseley with mother Elizabeth Anne (nee Brown) ,  step father Samuel Bland and young brother Charlie.
This is a photo of her in Elizabethan costume playing the part of Amy Robsart, wife of Queen Elizabeth the 1st's favourite Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester.

4: An image of Adelaide which was imprinted onto a tray then published in an American hobbies magazine. 
The text round the central portrait is "give us this day our daily bread". 
Underneath is the wording "Miss Neilson as Viola from Twelth Night, reproduces her photograph taken by the noted American theatrical photographer Napoleon Sarony. On the bread tray she is the only ....?"

5: Portrait of Adelaide on a glass jug, the illustration was taken from an American hobby magazine. 
The wording reads "Adelaide Neilson as Juliet in the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet on the water pitcher. 
As "Miss Neilson" she has two other portraits on Actress-the only performer with three different portraits represented. 
She shares the water pitcher with Maggie Mitchell in "Pearl of Savoy".

6: An autographed image of Adelaide Neilson, it is signed "Yours sincerely Adelaide Neilson".
In print under the picture are the words "The Theatre No 8New Series" and "Woodburytype"
7: This is Newington Church, Kennington, London where Adelaide Neilson married Philip Henry Lee on November 30th 1864. 
It has now been demolished (July 2016)
8: In this image dated 1877 Adelaide was playing the part of Viola from Shakespeare's Twelth Night during  a tour of America. 
The photo was taken in New York by Napoleon Sarony a renowned portrait photographer.
9: Drawing of Adelaide Neilson dated August 1880 which was published in the Illustrated London News a few days after her death.

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