Thorndike, (Dame) Sybil (1882 – 1976)
British star of stage. She toured internationally in Shakespearean productions, often appearing with her husband Lewis Casson. Bernard Shaw wrote Saint Joan specially for her, and she starred in it with great success. She was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1931, and Companion of Honour in 1970.
TLS – Typewritten Letter Signed, September 8, (NY) reads: Thank you for your letter. I am enclosing with pleasure, the autograph photograph, and my daughters’ favourite quotations. Yours sincerely, Sybil Thorndike. Written from the Theatre Royal, Nottingham. Accompanied by a 5″x6″ reprint image of the celebrated thespian.
Thorndike’s stage appearance began at 11 as a pianist. Shortly thereafter, she was forced to switch from music to the theatre due to pianists cramp. Offered her first professional contract at age 21. Made her first stage appearance in Greet’s production of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor. This was followed by numerous US appearances in some 112 roles. In 1908 she was spotted by George Bernard Shaw when she understudied the leading role of Candida. Dame Thorndike went on to appear on Broadway, at the Old Vic Company, London, followed by a hiatus to rear children. She returned victorious to the stage in Saint Joan (1924) which she continued to perform until 1941. She was named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. She is buried in Westminster Cathedral.