Ethyle Batley

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Ethyle Batley (born Alice Ethel Murray; 3 December 1876[1] – 23 April 1917) was a British film director, actress and screenwriter.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

Batley was born in December 1876 in Wigan, north-west England, the second daughter of an iron merchant. In the late 1890s, she travelled to London to work as a theatre actress, performing under the name Ethyle Gordon Murray.[2]

While working with a touring theatre company, Murray met Ernest Batley, an actor from East London. They were married on 22 June 1901 at a registry office ceremony in Wandsworth, and began their married life living in Battersea.[2] In 1902, Ernest and Ethyle had their first child, actress Dorothy Audrey Batley, who was born on 18 January.[3]

Film career[edit]

Ethyle's first directing credit was in October 1912, with the film Peggy Gets Rid of the Baby, which starred Dorothy in the lead role.[3] During the First World War, Batley was one of the most active directors of patriotic films.[4]


Batley's contribution to the early history of cinema in Britain has often been overlooked or understated. In 2009, film historian Gerry Turvey described her as a "unique figure" who "merits fuller recognition than she has so far received".[2]


  1. ^ Wigan, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1911
  2. ^ a b c d Turvey 2009, p. 359.
  3. ^ a b Turvey 2009, p. 360.
  4. ^ Pierre, Paul Matthew St. (2009). Music Hall Mimesis in British Film, 1895-1960: On the Halls on the Screen. Associated University Presse. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-8386-4191-0.
  • Turvey, Gerry (2009). "Constrained Emancipation: The Career of Ethyle Batley, Britain's Pioneering Woman Film Director". Film History. 21 (4): 359–372. JSTOR 40405947.