Early life and career
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.
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. In 1902, Ernest and Ethyle had their first child, actress Dorothy Audrey Batley, who was born on 18 January.
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. During the First World War, Batley was one of the most active directors of patriotic films.
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".
- Turvey, Gerry (2009). "Constrained Emancipation: The Career of Ethyle Batley, Britain's Pioneering Woman Film Director". Film History. 21 (4): 359–372. JSTOR 40405947.
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