Photograph of Sarah Bernhardt and Mrs Patrick Campbell

Sarah Bernhardt invited Mrs Patrick Campbell to repeat her 1898 success as Melisande in Maeterlinck's romance Pelleas and Melisande, this time opposite Sarah herself as the male Pelleas. This photograph of them is signed by Bernhardt.

Bernhardt often took male roles during her career - she played a highly acclaimed Hamlet, amongst others - and even into her 50s and, as she was in 1904, just turned 60, she 'conveys the most dignified and noble impression of being in reality the man whom she impersonates'.

Mrs Campbell had to learn to act in French ('How dared I?' she later wondered), but the chemistry between the two made for a great success. Some, including writer and wit Max Beerbohm, half-brother to Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, were slightly scandalised by it all: 'Sarah is a woman and Mrs Campbell an English woman, and by these two facts such a performance is ruled out of the sphere of art into the sphere of sensationalism'. A Dublin critic, when the show played the provinces a year later was more scathing: 'Mrs Campbell played Melisande, Madame Bernhardt Pelleas. They are both old enough to know better'.