• Sybil Thorndike

A page from a 1940s autograph album signed with a fountain pen by Sybil Thorndike (1882-1976), the British actress born in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. She was spotted by the playwright George Bernard Shaw when she understudied the leading role of Candida in a tour directed by Shaw himself. and joined Annie Horniman's company in Manchester  before a stint on Broadway in 1910. Moving on to the Old Vic Company in London (1914–18), she played leading roles in Shakespeare and in other classic plays all through the First World War. Both Sybil and her husband, actor Lewis Casson, were active members of the Labour Party, and held strong left-wing views. Even when the 1926 General Strike stopped the first run of Saint Joan, they both still supported the strikers. Nonetheless, she was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1931. As a pacifist, Sybil was a member of the Peace Pledge Union and gave readings for its benefit. During World War II, Dame Sybil and her husband toured in Shakespearean productions on behalf of the Council For the Encouragement of the Arts, before joining Laurence Olivier and Ralph Richardson in the Old Vic season at the New Theatre in 1944. She continued to have success on stage, and undertook tours of Australia and South Africa, before playing again with Olivier in Uncle Vanya at Chichester in 1962. She made her farewell appearance with her husband in London revival of Arsenic and Old Lace at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1966. Her last stage performance was at The Thorndike Theatre in Leatherhead, Surrey, in There Was an Old Woman in 1969, the year Sir Lewis Casson died.

Dame Sybil's ashes are buried in Westminster Abbey.

Sybil Thorndike

  • Availability: In Stock
  • £15.00