Ada Ward

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Ada Ward (fl 1870-1912)[1] was a British actress and evangelist.

Not to be confused with the British painter Henrietta Mary Ada Ward (a.k.a. Henrietta Ward or Mrs E.M. Ward, 1832-1924)[2].


Ada Ward was an English actress and singer, who first appeared on the London stage in the mid-1870s. She went to tour the colonies (1870s -1880s) and in particular to become a popular star in Australia in the 1870s (though some Australian sources say in 1887). She later also worked in the United States. Over the course of a career of 20 years, she played many emotional parts, though her best role was generally believed to be that of "Lady Isabel", in East Lynne.

She caused a sensation on the 27th February, 1897, by announcing that she was leaving the stage after a performance of The Forger's Wife at the Prince's Theatre, Portsmouth, to join the Salvation Army as a preacher and going on to work in the slums of London and to travel the world once more as a charismatic speaker.

In 1912, disillusioned, she renounced her role as evangelist, to return to the stage in Sydney, Australia, with a show called Hypocrites and Pharisees (playing several roles) as well as giving an address.[3]

Ward was twice married, divorcing one husband and outliving the second, a fellow member of the theatre company she was in, who sadly died of fever in South Africa while she was fulfilling engagements in Australia.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

She performed in South Africa in the period July to November 1878, working with a few visiting companies, including performances in the Athenaeum Hall for the Egerton and Case Company and the Theatre Royal , Cape Town, with Henry Smith and Richard Thatcher (the Smith and Thatcher Company).

The plays performed in this period include: East Lynne (Wood), Leah (Mosenthal/Daly), The Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare), The Woman in Red (Coyne), The Ticket-of-Leave Man (Taylor), The Lady of Lyons (Bulwer-Lytton), Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare, Ward playing "Romeo"), As You Like It (Shakespeare), and To Oblige Benson (Taylor).

On 16 September 1878, the company offered a benefit for her, in which she performed eight excerpts from her repertoire, under the title "Gems", as well as reciting Little Heroes and giving a "Farewell Address".


"Miss Ada Ward. An Actress at the Penitent Form", The Brisbane Courier (13 April, 1897 Page 3)[4]

"Miss Ada Ward", North Otago Times, 29 April, 1909, Papers Past[5]

"Ada Ward Evangelist", The Mercury, Hobart, Tasmania, 6 May 1912 (Page 5), Trove[6]

D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1932. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: p.372.

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