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Madge and Lily: The Titheradge Girls

Madge Titheradge

The enrolment card for the Ascot Vale Girls' High School, in Chaucer Street, Moonee Ponds (the antecedent of Penleigh Girls' School) was written in Miss Lilian Limerock's distinctive hand and lists six entries under the surname, Titheradge Lily, Sylvia, Frances, Eve, Madge and Nina. Lily, the eldest, left the school in 1893, the other five girls in 1896 when their parents, George and Alma returned to England with their travelling theatre company. By the time she was 11, encouraged and trained by her actor parents, Madge had already done stage work with two Australian companies. She made her London debut at fifteen and soon became a popular actress and beauty, her photograph adorning many a cigarette card and postcard.

She toured Canada and the US in stage productions, appearing with John Gielgud in his Broadway debut in 1928. She made her screen debut in 1916 in a British film and, later that year, began work in Hollywood. Her filmography lists ten titles. Her reputation as a dramatic actress kept her in work until ill-health forced to her retire in 1938. She died in England in 1961, aged 74.

Madge's elder sister, Lily, born in 1877 (Madge was born ten years later) was also an actress, first in Australia and later in England, appearing on the London stage. The Penleigh magazine for 1926 in the Old Girls' Section provides the following: Mrs Knowles (Lily Titheradge) paid a brief visit to Melbourne last month, when the Repertory Company of which she was a member gave a very clever rendering of Galsworthy's "Old English". She was delighted to renew old friendships and have a glimpse of the present girls of the school in their new surroundings. Again in 1928, the magazine reported: Mrs Knowles (Lily Titheradge) has been touring New Zealand with the Margaret Bannerman Company. She expects to be in Melbourne for a short time in December.

Madge and Lily Titheradge stars of stage and screen and part of our Alumnae!

Permission to publish picture, nla.pic-an23218362-v, was granted by the National Library of Australia.

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