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LGBT History Month: Edy Craig

Posted on: 2nd February 2018 By:

Edith Ailsa Geraldine Craig (1869 – 1947), daughter of the famous Victorian actor Ellen Terry and architect/archaeologist Edward William Godwin, was a prolific theatre director, producer, costume designer and early pioneer of the women's suffrage movement in England.

Born in Gusterwoods Common, Hertfordshire, Edy, as she was known, went on to become a theatre producer, costume designer and was active in the women’s suffrage campaign. She also lived most of her adult life in a ‘menage-a-tois’ with Christopher St. John, (formerly Christabel Marshall) and the artist, Clare ("Tony") Atwood until her death in 1947.

Edy had a long affinity with the entertainment world, working in some of the most famous theatres such as the Lyceum, her performances were often praised by the infamous Victorian arts critic George Bernard Shaw.

Edy was a member of several suffrage organisations after first joining the Women's Social and Political Union in 1908. She also joined the Actresses' Franchise League, an organisation which campaigned for women's enfranchisement using educational methods, selling suffrage literature and staging propaganda plays. Edy was instrumental in getting these plays put on, acting, directing or producing them. She also sold the suffrage magazine Votes for Women reminiscing "I love it. But I'm always getting moved on… I generally sell the paper outside the Eustace Miles Restaurant, and I offer it verbally to every soul that passes. If they refuse, I say something to them. Most of them reply, others come up, and we collect a little crowd until I'm told to let the people into the restaurant, and move on. Then I begin all over again."

Following the death of her mother in 1928, Edy converted part of her family home (Smallhythe Place) into a theatre. Smallhythe soon became a cultural hub that was visited by many notable writers of the time including Radclyffe Hall and Virgina Woolf. 

Click here to learn more about Edy's home which is not a National Trust property and here to see footage of Edy from a 1916 silent film. 

Image from the LSE Library