Edith Cartwright (b. Chelsea, London, 19/04/1880 – d. St. Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, 25/05/1969) was a British actress.
Edith Eva Morley was the daughter of Victorian actor Charles Cartwright (1855-1915), whose real name was Duncan John Morley. Between February and August 1898 she accompanied her father on his second theatrical tour of Australia and is said to have made her first appearance on any stage as Edith Morley on 19 February of that year in The Squire of Dames at the Bijou Theatre in Melbourne. While the number of performances was limited because of injuries sustained in a riding accident, she was well received by Australian audiences. Writing in 1899, an enthusiastic critic from The Era, published in London, wrote: “Miss Morley is an attractive brunette, and divinely tall. Her features suggest intellectual power, and throughout she displays a high intelligence and a faculty of expression which should stand her in good stead.” Other plays in which she appeared were The Idler, The Tree of Knowledge and The Middleman.
After her return home she adopted the stage name of Edith Cartwright, obviously having decided that it could do no harm being identified as her famous father’s daughter. In England she appeared in such plays as Tatterley (1899), The King of Fools (1900), Colonel Cromwell (1900), The Shadow Dance (1901) and Merely Mary Ann (1904), The Shadow Dance being an adaptation of “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame”, in which she played Esmeralda opposite her father’s Quasimodo. In 1905 she made her first visit to North America as a member of the Ellis Jeffreys Company and in 1909 she was there again with a prestigious new company called The New Theatre. Plays in which she appeared included The Prince Consort (1905), The Squaw Man (1906), The Concert (1910), The Paper Chase (1912) and The Woman Who Atoned (1913). In between she continued to act in Great Britain in plays such as Dombey and Son (1907), In the Bishop’s Carriage (1907), The Three of Us (1908), The Marriage of William Ashe (1908) and Peg o’ My Heart (1915).
In December 1919 she made her first stage appearance in South Africa when she starred in Parlour, Bedroom and Bath for the New Comedy Company at His Majesty's Theatre in Johannesburg. Also in the cast were Cecil Kellaway, Elise Hamilton, Hilda Attenboro, Florence Roberts and Harcourt Collett, while the play was produced by William Mollison. This was followed by The High Cost of Loving, also for the New Comedy Company and Tilly of Bloomsbury for the New London Dramatic Company, both in 1920. In addition she acted in the film version of H. De Vere Stacpoole's The Vulture's Prey (Dick Cruikshanks & William Bowden/1920, released 1922) in the role of Margaret Harker (alias Sonia Perovski). She arrived back from South Africa in February 1921 and the following year an Edith Morley appeared in a British film entitled No. 7 Brick Row, directed by Fred W. Durrant and two shorts directed by Edwin Greenwood. The last appearance we have for her is in a revue called Picnic (1926) at the Arts Theatre in London, which also featured Leslie French. After that she disappears from sight, but she died in St. Leonards-on-Sea at the age of 89. (FO)
The Star, Christchurch, 24 March 1898
The Era, London, 1 July 1899
The Morning Telegraph, New York, 2 February 1905
S.A. Pictorial, 13 December 1919
Rand Daily Mail, 2 December 1919
Rand Daily Mail, 5 May 1920
Return to ESAT Personalities C
Return to South African Personalities
Return to The ESAT Entries
Return to Main Page