Lillie Langtry

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Lillie Langtry (13 October 1853 – 12 February 1929), born Emilie Charlotte Le Breton, was a British actress born on the island of Jersey. A renowned beauty, she was nicknamed the "Jersey Lily" and had a number of prominent lovers, including the future king of England, Edward VII.


From Jersey to London

Emilie was the only daughter of the Dean of Jersey, Rev. William Corbet Le Breton. He gained an unsavoury reputation because of affairs and, after his wife left him, he left Jersey in 1880.[1] He had eloped to Gretna Green with Lillie's mother,[2] who was known for her beauty. [3] In 1842, he married her at Chelsea. One of Lillie's ancestors was Richard le Breton,one of the reputed assassins of Saint Thomas a Becket in 1170. She had six brothers, all but one older than she. Proving too much for her French governess, Lillie was educated by her brothers' tutor, becoming unusually well educated for women of the time.

In 1874, twenty-year-old Lillie married twenty-six-year-old Irish landowner Edward Langtry, the brother-in-law of her brother William's wife.They held their wedding reception at The Royal Yacht Hotel, in St. Helier Jersey. He was wealthy enough to own a yacht, and Lillie insisted that he take her away from the Channel Islands. Eventually, they rented a place in Belgravia, London.

In an interview published in several newspapers (including the Brisbane Herald) in 1882, Lillie Langtry said,

“It was through Lord Ranleigh and the painter Frank Miles that I was first introduced to London society… I went to London and was brought out by my friends. Among the most enthusiastic of these was Mr Frank Miles, the artist. I learned afterwards that he saw me one evening at the theatre, and tried in vain to discover who I was. He went to his clubs and among his artist friends declaring he had seen a beauty, and he described me to everybody he knew, until one day one of his friends met me and he was duly introduced. Then Mr Miles came and begged me to sit for my portrait. I consented, and when the portrait was finished he sold it to Prince Leopold. From that time I was invited everywhere and made a great deal of by many members of the royal family and nobility. After Frank Miles I sat for portraits to Millais and Burne-Jones and now Frith is putting my face in one of his great pictures."

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