Nancy Price

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Nancy Price
Nancy Price 1900s.jpg
Lilian Nancy Bache Price

(1880-02-03)3 February 1880
Kinver, Staffordshire, England, UK
Died31 March 1970(1970-03-31) (aged 90)
Worthing, Sussex, England, UK
  • Actress
  • author
  • theatre director
  • theatre founder
Spouse(s)Charles Maude

Nancy Price, CBE (3 February 1880 – 31 March 1970), was an English actress on stage and screen, author and theatre director. Her acting career began in a repertory theatre company before progressing to the London stage, silent films, talkies and finally television. In addition to appearing on stage she became involved in theatre production and was a founder of the People's National Theatre.


Personal life

Christened Lilian Nancy Bache Price in Kinver, Staffordshire, England, in 1880, Nancy was the daughter of William Henry Price (a retired farmer) and Sarah Mannix. Her mother was the granddaughter of Sir Henry Mannix. After schooling in her home village and then in nearby Malvern Wells she decided at an early age to become an actress. She married the actor Charles Maude on 17 May 1907, and they were together until his death in 1943. They had two daughters Joan Maude and Elizabeth Maude. Joan, Elizabeth, and Elizabeth's daughter Jennifer Phipps all went on to become actresses. [1] Soon after Charles and Nancy's daughters were born, they made the village of Findon in Sussex her home, living in a cottage called 'Arcana' in Heather Lane on the Downs. [2]

She also wrote many books, including her Autobiography, 'The Gull's Way'. At one time she managed the 'Little Theatre' in the Adelphi, off the Strand.

Findon remained her home until her death in 1970.

Theatre career

Nancy joined F.R. Benson's theatre company whilst still at school. The company specialised in Shakespeare's plays and toured extensively in the provinces. Her first big break came when she caught the attention of Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, who cast her as Calypso in Stephen Phillips's production of Ulysses at Her Majesty's Theatre, London in 1902, a role in which she enjoyed great success. [3] The part of Hilda Gunning was written for her by Arthur Wing Pinero in Letty (1904), [4] a role in which the theatre critic J. T. Grein said: "In Letty, while others enhanced their fame, Miss Nancy Price, in the part of Hilda, the shop-girl, made her name. If we read the character aright, Miss Price realised it well-nigh to perfection". [5] In 1909 she appeared as Mrs. D'Aquila in George Dance's production of The Whip at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. She joined Edith Craig's Pioneer Players at the Kingsway Theatre in 1911 for a performance of Christopher St. John's The First Actress. In March 1912, she appeared as India in Sir Edward Elgar's Imperial Masque The Crown of India at the London Coliseum.

Together with the Dutch-born theatre impresario J.T. Grein, Nancy Price founded the People's National Theatre in 1930. Their first production was The Man from Blankleys by F. Anstey at the Fortune Theatre. [6] When Grein left the company Nancy became its honorary director, and in 1932 a permanent home was found at the Little Theatre in the Adelphi with Nancy as manager. The enterprise came to an end with the destruction of the theatre in 1941. [7] During this period, Nancy established the English School Theatre Movement, which toured productions of Shakespeare plays to working class children. [8]

In the 1950 King's Birthday Honours, Nancy was awarded a CBE for services to the stage. [9] In the same year, she gave her final stage performance as Martha Blanchard in Eden Phillpotts' The Orange Orchard at the New Lindsey Theatre. [10]

Theatre performances

SeasonPlay TitleTheatreRoleNotes
1900Pericles Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon Diana
1900Macbeth Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, Stratford-upon-AvonHecate
1902Ulysses Her Majesty's Theatre, LondonCalypsoWritten by Stephen Phillips, produced by Beerbohm Tree
1902–03The Eternal City His Majesty's Theatre, LondonPrincess BelliniDramatisation of Hall Caine's novel of the same name
1903Em'ly Adelphi Theatre, LondonRosa Dartle
1903A Snug Little Kingdom Royalty Theatre, LondonSister Hope
1903The Two Mr. Wetherbys Imperial Theatre, LondonConstantia Stage Society production of St. John Hankin's first play
1903–04Letty Duke of York's Theatre, LondonHilda Gunning
1908 The Gay Lord Quex Garrick Theatre, LondonSophy Fullgarney
1908–09A Modern Aspasia The Aldwych Theatre, LondonMuriel MeredithPlay by Hamilton Fyfe, cast included her husband Charles Maude
1909One of the Best The Aldwych Theatre, LondonEsther CoventryPlay by Seymour Hicks
1909The Fountain The Aldwych Theatre, LondonDinah KippinPlay by George Calderon
1909–10 The Whip Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, LondonMrs. D'Aquila
1911 The Vision of Delight His Majesty's Theatre, LondonOne of The Twelve HoursPlay written by Ben Jonson Coronation Gala performance
1911The First Actress The Kingsway Theatre, LondonMargaret Hughes
1911The Merchant of Venice Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, Stratford-upon-AvonPortia
1915–16Richard III His Majesty's Theatre, London
1923 Outward Bound Everyman Theatre, LondonMrs. Cliveden-BanksPlay by Sutton Vane
1923–24Ambush Garrick Theatre, LondonHarriett Nichols
1925 Enrico IV (Henry IV) Everyman Theatre, LondonMarchioness Matilda SpinaPlay written by Luigi Pirandello
1925And That's the Truth (If You Think it is) Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, LondonSignora FrolaBased on the play Così è (se vi pare) by Luigi Pirandello
1925Gloriana Little Theatre in the Adelphi, LondonPrincess ElizabethAppearing alongside John Gielgud
1929–30Belle: or What's the Bother? Prince Of Wales Theatre, LondonAnnie CollinsLater renamed as Down Our Street
1931 The Silver Box Fortune Theatre, LondonMrs. JonesPlay written by John Galsworthy
1931 Salome Savoy Theatre, LondonHerodiasFirst public performance in England of Oscar Wilde's previously banned play
1932 Trifles Duchess Theatre, LondonMrs. HalePlay written by Susan Glaspell
1932 Alison's House Little Theatre in the Adelphi, LondonMiss Agatha Pulitzer Prize winning play written by Susan Glaspell
1934Nurse Cavell Vaudeville Theatre, LondonEdith CavellPlay written by C. E. Bechhofer Roberts and C.S. Forester
1934The Life That I Gave HimPeople's National TheatreDon'Anna LunaPlay written by Luigi Pirandello (Italian source: La vita che ti diedi, 1923)
1939Mrs Van Kleek Playhouse Theatre, LondonMrs Van Kleek, the leadPlay written by Elinor Mordaunt from her book of the same name published 1933

ran 10 March to 15 April 1939 Queen Mary attended Friday 14 April 1939 [The Times 18 March 1939]

1941–42Whiteoaks Theatre Royal, Bath and Comedy Theatre, London
1943Vintage Wine Grand Theatre, Blackpool Madame Popinot
1943–44 John Gabriel Borkman The Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool
1944–45Lisa The Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool
1950The Orange OrchardNew Lindsey Theatre, LondonMartha Blanchard

Film career

Having established herself as a stage actress in London's West End, Nancy's first film role was in the black and white, silent film The Lyons Mail . In the next decade she appeared in a further eight silent films before her first 'talkie', The American Prisoner , which was recorded in mono sound in 1929. The last silent film in which she appeared The Price of Divorce was adapted by producer Oswald Mitchell to incorporate sound and released under the name Such is the Law.


1916 The Lyons Mail Janette
1921 Belphegor the Mountebank Countess de Blangy
1923 Bonnie Prince Charlie Lady KingsburghAppearing alongside Ivor Novello
1923 The Woman Who Obeyed Governess
1923 Comin' Thro' the Rye Mrs. Titmouse
1923 Love, Life and Laughter Balloon blowers wife's friend
1927 Huntingtower Mrs. MoranBased on novel by John Buchan
1928 His House in Order Lady RidgeleySilent film which is believed lost. [11]
1928The Price of Divorcereleased as Such is the Law
1929 The American Prisoner Lovey Lee
1930 The Loves of Robert Burns Posie Nancy
1930 Such Is the Law Aunt
1931 The Speckled Band Mrs. StauntonEarly Sherlock Holmes film
1932 Down Our Street Annie Collins
1934 The Crucifix Miss Bryany
1939 The Stars Look Down Martha FenwickAdapted by A.J.Cronin
1940 Dead Man's Shoes Madame Pelletier Roddy McDowell in an early role
1942 Secret Mission Violette, housekeeper
1944 Madonna of the Seven Moons Mama BarucciProduced by Gainsborough Pictures
1945 I Know Where I'm Going! Mrs. Crozier Petula Clark in an early role
1945 I Live in Grosvenor Square Mrs. Wilson
1946 Carnival Mrs. Trewhella
1947 Master of Bankdam Lydia Crowther Nicholas Parsons in a minor role
1948 The Three Weird Sisters Gertrude Morgan-VaughanScreenplay co-written by Dylan Thomas
1950 The Naked Heart Theresa SuprenantFilm also known as Maria Chapdelaine
1952 Mandy Jane EllisDistributed by Ealing Studios

Television filmography

1938Will ShakespeareQueen Elizabeth BBC production
1948Nurse CavellEdith CavellBBC production
1949Down Our StreetAnnie CollinsBBC production
1950The Silver BoxMrs.JonesBBC production based on a play by John Galsworthy
1950Thérèse RaquinMadame RaquinBBC production based on novel Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola
1950The Orange OrchardMartha BlanchardBBC production
1951WhiteoaksGrandma Adeline WhiteoakBBC production

Radio Broadcasting

1951The Life That I Gave HimDonn'Anna LunaBBC production. From the play La vita che ti diedi, 1923, by Luigi Pirandello. Translated by Clifford Bax. Adapted for broadcasting and produced by Mary Hope Allen





Essays, memoires and diaries

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  1. "Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia". Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  2. MARGOT AND NANCY Archived 20 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine .
  3. Hartnoll, Phyllis; Peter Found (1992). The Concise Oxford companion to the theatre. Oxford University Press. p.  392. ISBN   978-0-19-866136-8.
  4. Price, Nancy (1953). Into An Hour Glass. London: Museum Press. p. 185.
  5. J.T. Grein (2010). Dramatic Criticism (Volume 5). London: General Books LLC. ISBN   978-1-153-97084-6.
  6. The Fortune Theatre, Russell Street, London, WC2.
  7. Stanton, Sarah; Martin Banham (1996). Cambridge paperback guide to theatre. Cambridge University Press. p. 282. ISBN   978-0-521-44654-9 . Retrieved 10 September 2011.
  8. Gale, Maggie Barbara. (1996). West End women: women and the London stage, 1918–1962. Routledge. p. 64. ISBN   0-415-08495-4 . Retrieved 10 September 2011.
  9. "No. 38929". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 June 1950. pp. 2785–2785.
  10. [ dead link ]
  11. Lobenthal, Joel (2004). Tallulah: the life and times of a leading lady. HarperCollins. p. 130. ISBN   0-06-039435-8.