On Monday I wrote about our trip to NYC and our brunch at Lillie’s Time Square. While researching the resturant I took a look at their biography of Lillie Langtry and was greatly intrigued and wanted to share her story with all of you.
At home in the company of princes and presidents, artists and poets, or simply alone in her garden. Envied, respected, adored, and lampooned, her fame spanned over half a century. A controversial figure who challenged Victorian society’s attitudes to women, Lillie Langtry was a unique woman, years ahead of her time.
Lillie Langtry (October 13, 1853 – February 12, 1929), born Emilie Charlotte Le Breton, was a British music hall singer and stage actress famous for her many stage productions including She Stoops to Conquer, The Lady of Lyons and As You Like It. She was also known for her relationships with nobility, including the Prince of Wales, the Earl of Shrewsbury and Prince Louis of Battenberg.
In 1874, twenty-year-old Lillie married twenty-six-year-old Irish landowner Edward Langtry, a widower who had been married to the sister of her brother William’s wife.
At the suggestion by her close friend Oscar Wilde, Lillie embarked upon a stage career. In December 1881, she made her debut before the London public in She Stoops to Conquer at the Haymarket Theatre.
The Prince of Wales, Albert Edward (“Bertie”, later Edward VII), arranged to sit next to Langtry at a dinner party given on May 24, 1877. He became infatuated with Langtry and she soon became his semi-official mistress. The affair lasted from late 1877 to June 1880. The Prince of Wales had the Red House (now Langtry Manor Hotel) constructed in Bournemouth, Dorset in 1877 as a private retreat for the couple and allowed Langtry to design it.
In April 1879, Langtry started an affair with Prince Louis of Battenberg, although she was also involved with Arthur Clarence Jones (1854–1930), an old friend. In June 1880, she became pregnant. Her husband was definitely not the father; she led Prince Louis to believe that it was he. When the prince confessed to his parents, they had him assigned to the warship HMS Inconstant. Given some money by the Prince of Wales, Langtry retired to Paris with Arthur Jones. On March 8, 1881, she gave birth to a daughter, Jeanne Marie.
From 1882 to 1891, Langtry had a relationship with the New York City millionaire Frederic Gebhard. With him, she became involved in the sport of thoroughbred horse racing.
Langtry became an American citizen in 1897. She divorced her husband Edward Langtry the same year in Lakeport, California, and he died a few months later following an accident.
In 1888 Langtry purchased a winery with an area of 4,200 acres (17 km2) in Lake County, California, which produced red wine. She sold it in 1906. Bearing the Langtry name, the winery and vineyard are still in operation in Middletown, California.
Langtry was involved in a relationship with George Alexander Baird, millionaire amateur jockey and pugilist, from April 1891 until his March 1893 death in New Orleans.
In 1899, she married the much younger Hugo Gerald de Bathe. He inherited a and became a leading owner in the horse-racing world, before retiring to Monte Carlo. During her final years, Langtry resided in Monaco, with her husband living a short distance away. The two saw one another only when she called on him for social gatherings or in brief private encounters.
From 1900 to 1903, Langtry was the lessee and manager of London’s Imperial Theatre.
Langtry died in Monaco in 1929. She was buried in the graveyard of St. Saviour’s Church in Jersey.
Information from this post was pulled from her Wikipedia entry which can be found here for more information on Lillie.