Madge Kendal

Madge Kendal

Madge Kendal, pictured here with her husband, the actor William Kendal, did much to improve the standards in Victorian theatre and to bring it a respectability that would appeal to the middle classes. The couple imposed a high moral code both on stage and behind the scenes. Kendal was the youngest of William Robertson's 22 children and her family had been connected with the theatre for 200 years. Her brother, Tom Robertson, was a dramatist whose work introduced the naturalistic cup-and-saucer type drama that rapidly became the fashion. The couple went into management together at the Court Theatre and the St James's Theatre. Although a sparkling comedian on the stage, and referred to in magazines as 'dear Madge Kendal', Mrs Kendal was by all accounts a cold and judgmental character. She disapproved of people and practices that did not conform to her strict code, and she had a poor relationship with her own five children. Her acting was outstanding however, and she was made a Dame in 1926.