Elizabeth Robins (1862-1952) born in Louisville, Kentucky, and educated at Putnam Female seminary in Ohio she became an actress with the Boston Museum Company, where she played almost three hundred parts in Boston and on tour. In 1885, she married an actor, George Parks, who killed himself two years later. In 1889, Robins moved to London where she established herself as a major actress and soon became active in the movement to bring Ibsen’s plays to Britain, working with her close friend the critic William Archer. In Ibsen and the Actress (1928), Robins writes of the life-changing experience of seeing A Doll’s House and her determination, with fellow American actress Marion Lea, to produce Hedda Gabler themselves when the managers expressed indifference and loathing towards it. She performed leading roles in many Ibsen plays and produced the work of other playwrights including fellow Norwegian Alfhild Agrell’s Karin, (Vaudeville, 1892) translated by Florence Bell. Bell was Robins’ close friend and coauthor on the controversial play Alan’s Wife (1893), dealing with infanticide, which they produced and published anonymously. Fifteen novels followed, many with theatrical themes (some under thepseudonym C.E. Raimond) including The Coming Woman (1892), George Mandeville’s Husband (1894), and The Open Door (1898). Several were adapted for the stage or from her stage plays, like The Convert, based on Votes For Women, which was one of the first plays directly about the suffrage campaign in Britain (both 1907). Robins was a prominent member of the WSPU and first President of theWWSL. She lived for many years with Octavia Wilberforce, the doctor andfeminist, with whom she adopted a child. In 1913, many of her speeches, lectures and articles on the Suffrage Movement were published in volume form as Way Stations. These and many of her novels are now available online. Later, Theatre and Friendship, her correspondence with Henry James was published. Further (unpublished) plays include: Mirkwater, The Silver Lotus (1895) Benvenuto Cellini (1899/1900), Judith, (c1906), The Bowarra (1909) and Where Are You Going To…?, originally written for Bensusan’s Women’s Theatre (also known as My Little Sister), Evangeline (1914) and The Secret that Was Kept or Fear ( Robins’ unpublished works are in the New York University Fales Library).
Back to Authors List