Lillian Beddard

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Lillian Beddard (1859-1929) was a British actress, manager, teacher and journalist.


Born in the UK, she became an actress, apparently making a name for herself as Shakespearean actress and toured the world with her own Shakespearean troupe.

In 1892 she was appearing in Australia with a "specially engaged Dramatic and Comedy Company", e.g. according to the Barrier Miner of 22 February performing at the Theatre Royal, Broken Hill, with a number of plays. On her way back she apparently stopped in South Africa, to perform a number of the works from the same repertoire in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Kimberley.

Based on various articles and adverts in the San Francisco Call, she was appearing in San Francisco in 1894 and by 1895 possibly living there - the following items being rather telling: "LILLIAN BEDDARD, the English actress, coaches ladies and gentlemen for the dramatic profession ; appearances arranged. Shakespearean Academy, 406 Van Ness Ave." (4 March 1895) and "A Grass Widow Now Lillian Beddard Will Face the Footlights and Her Diamonds Alone" (March 30, 1896). This assumption is supported by D.C. Boonzaier (1923) also notes that a while after leaving South Africa, she apparently resided in the USA, where, having left the stage she later worked as a journalist.

She first married to the actor and playwright Hereward Hoyte, whom she later divorced, then married a Mr Bond. She died penniless and alone in New York in 1929.

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

She was initially known in South Africa as an actress of some importance (though according to Boonzaier of no great talent) in the 1880s, and a manager of several companies, touring the cities with her company in 1888-9.

According to D.C. Boonzaier (1923) she presented an event called Grand Classical Performance in the Exhibition Theatre, Cape Town, on 3 May 1888, assisted by Charles Lobbett. The production included the "Balcony Scene" from Romeo and Juliet, the "Sleepwalking Scene" from Macbeth, and the first act of Gilbert's Pygmalion and Galatea, with incidental songs sung by a local singing teacher, Henry Clements. The Cape Town cast also included a Madame K. Schonborn-Lorch.

They apparently then moved to Johannesburg, for Laurence Wright (2020) cites Hoffman indicating that Lillian Beddard and her company were "the first Shakesperian company to perform in Johannesburg" (cited from Hoffman, p.19), and that in 1889 she appeared at the Theatre Royal, Johannesburg, as "Juliet" in Romeo and Juliet (3-8 June), "Clara Douglas" in Bulwer Lytton's Money (10-14 June), "Lady Mary" in J.W. Boulding's The White Queen - a play written specially for her (21-26 June), "Leslie Brudenell" in Pinero's The Profligate (1-3 July) and "Lady Macbeth" in Macbeth (8-13 July).


Laurence Wright. "Shakespeare in South Africa: The Nineteenth Century". Internet Shakespeare Editions[online]. University of Victoria, Accessed 16 July 2020[1]

"A Grass Widow Now, Lillian Beddard Will Face the Footlights and Her Diamonds Alone", in The San Francisco Call, Monday, March 30, 1896[2]

Rosemary Ursula Hoffman 1964. A List of Theatre Performances in Johannesburg, 1887-1897. Based on the programme collection in the Strange Library of Africana, Johannesburg. Johannesburg: Johannesburg Public Library.

San Francisco Call, Volume 77, Number 84, 4 March 1895

Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 - 1954) Mon 22 Feb 1892 Page 3

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: pp.388-9

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