On October 13, 1853, Lillie Langtry was born to

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

download word file, 6 pages 0.0

Downloaded 1682 times

On October 13, 1853, Lillie Langtry was born to the Reverend William Corbet le Breton. Emilie, her real name, had six brothers and all lived in the countryside of Jersey. Being raised with all boys, Lillie could not help but be a tomboy who ran through the forest and played pranks on others, hence the nickname Lillie. As time passed on, Lillie transformed into a beautiful, intelligent and humorous young lady. "¡°In her early teens, she was acknowledged as the most beautiful girl on the Island of Jersey¡± (www.lillielangtry.com/Jersey%201853.htm). She was named a ¡°professional beauty¡± which was a term to describe a woman whose fame was due to her face and figure. Men and women envied and admired her because of her overwhelming beauty and fame, as one of the world¡¯s first women millionaires and one of the most photographed women in the world.

In 1874, Lillie wed Edward Langtry who was a quite wealthy man.

Her life¡¯s dream was to spend the rest of her life in London. However, soon after the marriage Lillie was diagnosed with typhoid fever and became severely ill. During her struggle, her doctor became very close to Lillie. He knew of her dreams to go to London and convinced her husband Edward that taking her to London would help her recover from this illness. Lillie¡¯s dreams and fulfillment¡¯s would soon be met.

Soon after her arrival in London in the year of 1876, Lillie began to achieve her ambition. In mourning from her brother¡¯s death, her father¡¯s friend The 7th Viscount Ranelagh invited her to a party at his home in Lownes Square. Being invited to such a formal place, Lillie was dumbfounded on what one wears to these events. ¡°She wore a simple black figure hugging dress which complemented her pale complexion. She was a contrast to other ladies present, in their beautifully tailored and colorful evening gowns¡± (www.lillielagtry.com/London.htm). It was not just her pure and initial beauty that caught everyone¡¯s attention, but the guests were shocked of her intelligence and outspoken personality. She was persuasive and one step ahead of everyone else. Two artists, Everett Millais and Frank Miles started sketching her to catch the moment in time when they first saw the beautiful Lillie Langtry. The drawing that was sketched of her at the dinner party by Miles and Millais sold out all the other pictures of theatre beauties and throughout all of London. Postcards were made of her and crowds of people gathered to purchase the first copy. Her beauty took the world by storm allowing her success to skyrocket.

Lillie¡¯s rise of fame and popularity grew throughout society. She was receiving invitations to parties from artist so they could sketch her fondness. As for her husband on the other hand, he had a different view, Edward forbade Lillie to go to any of these parties. He claimed, ¡°they could not afford all the new outfits. Everyone knew that a society beauty would not be seen in the same outfit twice¡±(www.lillielagtry.com/Society.htm). She knew Edward was right, but her mind was set on her fame and she had to attend these parties. Lillie ¡°became adept at altering her simple black dress, for instance, she would embellish it with white lace on the collar and cuffs for an afternoon sitting and then altar the neckline for a function on the same evening.¡± Lillie¡¯s fame grew and more people wanted to meet this so-called beauty. Albert Edward the Prince of Whales also known as Bertie, was anxious to meet ¡°this woman famed for her violet eyes, intelligence and sense of humor¡± (www.liliielangtry.com/Royal%20Command.htm). At a dinner party, the Prince and Lillie coincidentally sat next to one another. He noticed her true beauty and wit and was amazed. She did not drool over his power and treated him as she would anyone else. The Prince, Bertie, was known for committing several affairs, yet only with married woman. Bertie¡¯s wife, Princess Alexandria knew of this secret, but was unable to bring this attention to him. To get to know Lillie better, the Prince started to invite Lillie¡¯s husband Edward to events, parties and sailing trips. Since he was occupied at these events, Lillie Langtry officially became the Prince¡¯s mistress. The Prince showed her off to everyone in high society. At social and sporting events, people flocked to meet the real Lillie Langtry. ¡°She was at the center of the worlds most fashionable society, dress designers flooded her with free outfits so that their designs would be seen on her, artist begged her for a sitting, Dukes and foreign Princes vied to be introduced to her and woman wanted to be like her¡±(www.lillielangtry.com/Mistress.htm). Her popularity was named ¡°The Langtry Phenomenon¡±.

Life in her world was great, but good things come to an end. At a dinner party, Lillie and the Prince got in an argument because she was wearing an outfit similar to the Prince¡¯s. He proclaimed it was not acceptable and Lillie poured ice down the Prince¡¯s back in front of the guest. Standing her ground, Lillie would not apologize and in turn sent the party to an outrage. ¡°Invitations were withdrawn and creditors, sensing a shift in Lillies fortunes, pressed her to settle her accounts urgently. Lillie on the verge of bankruptcy, realized she needed a job, but her options were limited¡± (www.lillielangtry.com/The%20Fall.htm). As for other bad news, Lillie and her husband Edward split up because he could not afford the famous lifestyle that she wanted, leading her to become bankrupt also.

With her connection with the Prince and her interest in theatre, Lillie was introduced to a French actress Sarah Bernhardt. She convinced Lillie to take advantage of her fame and become an actress. ¡°Lillie¡¯s plight made her even more famous and she played to full houses wherever she appeared on stage. Her career blossomed, critics acknowledged that she had a unique presence.¡±(www.lillielangtry.com/theatre). She was now a professional and had more admirers than before. She was ¡°a mediocre actress but crowds flocked to see her costumes, jewels, and her occasional display of legs"(www.mysterypartners.com/Robin/LillieLangtry.html). Her plays even attracted the prince, who now remained close friends with Lillie.

Flattered by her own success, Lillie and her company decided to tour the United States. As she ¡°arrived in America in the middle of the night, it appeared that the whole of New York (including Oscar Wilde already touring the states) was there to greet her¡± (www.lillielangtry.com/America.htm). Her first night of performance in America was a hit and was sold out. She won the acceptance of many of her harshest critics and her popularity rose.

People showered Lillie with cards and gifts. One person in particular was Freddie Gebhard ¡°a rich industrialist from Baltimore who gave Lillie a Pullman Railway carriage named ¡°Lalee¡± worth over half a million pounds¡±(www.lillielangtry.com/Freddie.htm). Oscar Wilde was another admirer who wrote ¡°Lady Windermere¡¯s Fan¡± dedicated to Lillie.

Lillie also ¡°had the privilege of having a town in Texas renamed in her honor during his second year by Justice of the Peace, Roy Bean¡± (www.hurstmereclose.freeserve.co.uk/html/lillie_langtry.html). They wanted even more acknowledgment so she decided to start up her own winery. Bottles were produced with her picture on each label. She set up a diverse range of companies while at the same time endorsing many products, leading her to become a millionaire.

At the age of 46, Lillie remarried to a man named Hugo de Bathe. In 1899, she became Lady de Bathe. ¡°In the 1900s Lillie changed with the times, bought a motorcar, dressed in the latest fashions and was still in demand for photographs, with hundreds of different poses of her appearing on postcards of the day¡± (www.lillielangtry.com/Lady%20De%20Bathe.com). In 1913, she made her only film, ¡°Pears¡¯ Soap¡± and continued to perform on the stage. She performed and admired her fame into her late seventies.

On February 12, 1929 Lillie Langtry passed away in her home on the French Riviera. Records say that she had a heart attack that was caused by influenza. Her body was buried at St. Saviours church in Jersey where she demanded. People were devastated and magazines and newspapers proclaimed it was ¡°The End on an Era¡±. Lillie Langtry was an intelligent, beautiful lady that made her life everything she had dreamed of. She accomplished her dreams and was loved and admired by society as a whole. She was mostly noted for her irresistible beauty and her affair with Edward VII.

In conclusion, Lillie Langtry made an enormous impact on society during the ¡°Edwardian Era.¡± Her beauty brought her fame and fortune. She was the woman that society watched and waited to see her latest fashion or theatre performance. If one lady can attract so much attention from artist, designers and poets, as Lillie Langtry did, then she had to be someone very special.

Bibliography World Wide Web. A Tribute to Lillie Langtry, Jersey 1853. Oct. 2, 2002. http://www.lillielangtry.com/Jersey%201853.htm World Wide Web. A Tribute to Lillie Langtry, London 1876. Oct. 2, 2002. http://www.lillielangtry.com/London.htm World Wide Web. A Tribute to Lillie Langtry, Society. Oct. 2, 2002. http://www.lillielangtry.com/Society.htm World Wide Web. By Royal Command 1877. Oct. 2, 2002. http://www.lillielangtry.com/Royal%20Command.htm World Wide Web. The Princes first official Mistress. Oct. 2, 2002. http://www.lillielangtry.com/Mistress.htm World Wide Web. The Fall. Oct. 2, 2002. http://www.lillielangtry.com/The%20Fall.htm World Wide Web. The Theatre. Oct. 2, 2002.

http://www.lillielangtry.com/Theatre.htm World Wide Web. Lady de Bathe 1899. Oct. 2, 2002. http://www.lillielangtry.com/Lady%20De%20Bathe.htm World Wide Web. The Final Curtain1929. Oct. 2, 2002. http://www.lillielangtry.com/The%20Final%20Curtain.htm World Wide Web. Lillie Langtry. Oct. 3, 2002. http://www.hurstmereclose.freeserve.co.uk/html/lillie_langtry.html World Wide Web. History of Lillie Langtry. Oct. 3, 2002. http://www.mysterypartners.com/Robin.LillieLangtry.html