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Braithwaite, Lilian (Dame)

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Born in Ramsgate in 1873, the daughter of the Reverend J. M. Braithwaite and his wife Elizabeth Jane (née Powell), Lilian Braithwaite engaged in amateur theatricals before making her first professional appearance in 1897 in a series of Shakespearean productions in Durban, Natal. Her first appearance on the London stage occurred on 4 June 1900 at the Crouch End Opera House, when she acted Celia in “As You Like It”. She then appeared at the Haymarket on 30 August 1900 as Lady Olivia Vernon in “Sweet Nell of Old Drury”. At the Comedy Theatre in 1901 as a member of Frank Benson’s company she played a number of Shakespearean roles. During her career of over four decades on the London stage, until 1945, she played dozens of parts, her last being Abby Brewster in “Arsenic and Old Lace” at the Strand in December 1942, a production that ran three years. She also acted in America, Canada and Ireland, and made several films. In 1943 she was honoured with a DBE. Dame Lilian died on 17 September 1948, at the age of 75. She had been the first wife of the actor Gerald Lawrence.
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