Shakespearean great in all her glory


Local resident Ann Rachlin is providing a special Ellen Terry evening at Rye Museum (East Street) on April 14 showing clips from her silent movies. The great Shakespearean actress Terry lived in Winchelsea and then at 16th-century Smallhythe Place (now a National Trust property) from 1900 until her death in 1928. The show starts at 7:30pm, and all are welcome (£3 entrance for non-members.)

Ellen Terry in beetlewing dress as Lady Macbeth

Most Ryers know Terry as the most esteemed Shakespearean actress of the Victorian period and might even be aware of acclaimed roles she played opposite actor-manager Henry Irving: Ophelia to his Hamlet, Lady Macbeth to his Macbeth, Portia to his Shylock, Beatrice to his Benedict and so on.

But there are interesting aspects of her life which are less well-known and Rachlin, an authority on Terry with an extensive collection of images and memorabilia, is uniquely qualified to tell us about them. Rachlin has searched the vaults of film archives all over the world to find clips from the silent movies made between 1916 and 1922 which feature the actress and her daughter, Edith Craig, acting and moving on the silent silver screen, a selection of which she will present on April 14. As in those bygone days, some excerpts will be accompanied by music played by the celebrated pianist Iain Kerr.

The distinguished presenter of the evening doubles the attraction of the event, not only because she is the acknowledged expert on  Ellen Terry but also because she is known as a superb storyteller. Here are some other facts about her which suggest this will be an outstanding evening:

Ann Rachlin, widow of the celebrated conductor and pianist Ezra Rachlin,  is perhaps best known as a pioneer of music appreciation for children and the founder of the “Fun with Music” CD  series, wherein her storytelling introduces children to classical music. She and her husband performed hundreds of concerts for children at the Barbican in London and all over the world – Ezra conducting the London Symphony Orchestra and other worldclass orchestras and Ann telling the stories of the music being played.

She is also a successful writer for children: her 10 “Famous Children” books are bestsellers worldwide and have been translated into 17 languages.

An authority not only on Ellen Terry but also on her daughter, Ann’s latest book Edy was a Lady contains the “lost” memoirs of Craig. It was Craig who founded the Ellen Terry Memorial Museum in her mother’s memory at Smallhythe Place.

Bygone days: a star of the silent silver screen


Photos: Ann Rachlin, Window and Grove/Getty Images, Smallhythe Place and Rye Castle Museum

Previous articlePitch up and show your support
Next articleRiddle of our hidden reservoirs