(1862 - 1952)
With pinned back chestnut hair and piercing blue-grey eyes, few could resist the intensity of the gaze - nor the personality that matched it - of Miss Elizabeth Robins. Actress, writer, suffragist and feminist, Elizabeth Robins is arguably our most famous past Henfieldian.
In her time a darling of the London literati, a friend of Oscar Wilde, Bernard Shaw and Henry James, she was known as the 'High Priestess of Ibsen' - bringing dedication to production and direction and intensity to the roles in the groundbreaking and controversial plays of the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, foremost amongst them Hedda Gabler. Elizabeth gave both the British premiere in 1891 and the American in 1898. It remains arguably Ibsen's best known play, remaining a challenging role for any actress willing to take it on today.
At the same time, she found success as a novelist, publishing popular works such as the The Open Question in 1898 and The Magnetic North in 1904, based upon her own adventures on the wild frontiers of the American Klondike. Elizabeth retired from the stage in 1902, becoming an activist for women's suffrage and writing the movement's play, Votes for Women. Moving to Henfield in 1909, she remained avowedly focused on the social issues of the day for the rest of her life.
Read an introduction to the life of Elizabeth Robins in our blog article ~ Elizabeth Robins: A New Woman.