Lady Constance Malleson

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Constance Malleson
Portrait of Lady Constance Malleson
Lady Constance Malleson in 1922
Born Constance Mary Annesley
(1895-10-24)24 October 1895
Castlewellan Castle
Died 5 October 1975(1975-10-05) (aged 79)
Bury St Edmunds
Nationality English
Other names Colette O'Niel
Occupation writer and actress
"Colette O'Niel" redirects here. For the Scottish television actress, see Colette O'Neil.

The Lady Constance Malleson (24 October 1895 – 5 October 1975) was a British writer and actress (appearing as Colette O'Niel).


Malleson was born Constance Mary Annesley on 24 October 1895 at Castlewellan Castle in Northern Ireland. She was the youngest child of Hugh Annesley, 5th Earl Annesley and his second wife Priscilla Cecilia Armytage-Moore. Annesley's sister, Lady Clare Annesley, was a feminist and pacifist who stood as a Labour Party parliamentary candidate in the 1920s and 1930s. She also had two half siblings, Lady Mabel Annesley and Francis Annesley, 6th Earl Annesley, from her father's first marriage to Mabel Wilhelmina Frances Markham.[1]

Annesley trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. While there she met Miles Malleson, whom she married on 12 April 1915 at the age of 19. The couple divorced in December 1922 after Miles failed to comply with a decree for restitution of conjugal rights obtained by Constance on 15 May the same year.[2][3] After graduating she studied in Paris and Dresden and spent the 1922 season with the Plymouth Repertory Theatre as lead actress.[3][4][5] Malleson took up acting because she believed "that every woman ought to be able to earn a living."[6] She was concerned with fair wages for all actors going on to speak publicly about the importance of securing the minimum wage of 3 pounds a week and payment for rehearsal for everyone, not just lead actors.[7]

Malleson appeared in many West End productions, including The Orphans at the Lyceum Theatre,[8] and at least one film, Hindle Wakes. She joined the Hull Repertory Theatre Company for the 1925 season appearing in several productions including Peter and Paul and Advertising April, alongside actor Colin Clive, and a C. K. Munro production of At Mrs. Beam's.[4][9][10] Malleson believed that the short run plays that define repertory theatre were important for the development of young dramatists because they provided an opportunity to see how an audience reacts to one's work.[7] In March 1928, Malleson produced a stage version of her three-act play The Way. The cast, which included Una O'Connor and Charles Carson, was headed by Moyna Macgill in the role of Rosaleen Moore, a part written for her by Malleson. The play was performed twice and was reviewed by The Times as a "pretentious sham!"[11][12]

During the First World War, her pacifist opinions brought her into contact with Bertrand Russell. The pair met in 1916 at a trial for Clifford Allen, then, chairman of the No-Conscription Fellowship.[13] Having mutually agreed to an open marriage with her husband, Malleson and Russell carried on a relationship until 1920.[14] Their affair eventually ended because Malleson did not want children.[15] Her interest in social reform led her to travel abroad, and she carried out lecture tours in Scandinavia in the 1930s and 1940s.

Stage roles[edit]

Title Year(s) Role Theatre Notes Ref(s)
L'Enfant Prodique 1916 Phrynette [16]
The Trojan Women 1919 Helen Royal Victoria Hall October [17][18]
Deburau 1921 Mme. Rébard Ambassadors Theatre 3–26 November 1921 [19]
The Rise of Silas Lapham 1922 Nan Corey Lyric Theatre 20–24 February 1922 [19]
The Orphans 1923 Henriette Lyceum Theatre 28 February – 7 April [19]
The Country Wife 1924 Squeamish Regent Theatre 17–18 February [19]
John Gabriel Borkman 1925 Mrs. Wilton Hull Repertory Theatre Company September [20]
Peter and Paul 1925 Eva Hull Repertory Theatre Company September [21]
Young Heaven 1925 [Lead actress] Hull Repertory Theatre Company October [22]
Advertising April 1925 Rachel Shaw Hull Repertory Theatre Company November [23][24]
At Mrs. Beam's 1925 Miss Cheezle [4]
From Morn to Midnight 1926 Lady Regent Theatre 9–20 March [4][25]
The Cradle Song 1927 The Vicaress Hull Repertory Theatre Company October [4][26]
Belinda Unknown Unknown Unknown [27]



Stage plays[edit]


  1. ^ Slater, John G. (1975). "Lady Constance Malleson, "Colette O'Niel"". Russell: the Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  2. ^ "Decree Against and Actor - Malleson vs Malleson" (43206). London, England: Times. December 5, 1922. p. 5. Mrs. Mary Constance Malleson, whose maiden name was Annesley, was granted a decree nisi dissolving her marriage with William Miles Malleson, an actor, because he failed to comply with a decree of restitution of conjugal rights and because of his adultery. 
  3. ^ a b "Obituary - Miss Colette O'Niel: Actress and writer" (59521). London, England: Times. The Times Digital Archive. October 8, 1975. p. 16. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Gardiner, Bennitt (1976). "Colette O'Niel: a Season in Repertory". Russell: the Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies: 26–36. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  5. ^ C.E.B. (August 19, 1925). "Bid for Popularity" (12441). Hull, England: Daily Mail. p. 4. The leading lady, Miss Colette O'Niel, who is the daughter of Countess Annesley, has had considerable stage experience. After graduating at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art she studied in Paris and Dresden. She has played with Miss Sybil Thorndyke and was leading lady of the Plymouth Repertory Theatre for a season. 
  6. ^ "ITEATABLETALK - Barry Dock News". South Wales Advertising, Printing, and Publishing Company. 1919-08-29. Retrieved 2015-11-02. 
  7. ^ a b Portia (October 30, 1925). "Miss Colette O'Niel - Address to Hull Women - The Real Actor's Intense Love of His Work" (12503). Hull, England: Daily Mail. p. 3. 
  8. ^ "Melville Collection". University of Kent Information Services - Special Collections. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  9. ^ C.E.B. (September 8, 1925). "Packed Out! Hull Little Theatre's Splendid Send Off" (12458). Hull, England: Daily Mail. p. 3. The women were uniformly good. Miss Colette O'Niel played the part of an old maid with quiet distinction, while Miss Margaret F. Ross.. 
  10. ^ Rowell, George; Jackson, Anthony; Jackson, Tony (1984). The Repertory Movement: A History of Regional Theatre in Britain. Cambridge University Press. p. 71. ISBN 9780521319195. 
  11. ^ "Arts Theatre Club - "The Way." by Constance Malleson (Colette O'Niel)" (44851). London, England: Times. The Times Digital Archive. March 26, 1928. p. 10. 
  12. ^ a b C.E.B. (February 24, 1928). "Musical and Dramatic" (13224). Hull, England: Daily Mail. p. 8. A forthcoming production at the Arts Theatre Club, London, will be of more than passing interest to Hull Little Theatre supporters. "The Way" a three-act play by Constance Malleson (Colette O'Niel), is to be given on Sunday evening, March 25th, and the following Monday afternoon by a company headed by Moyna McGill, for whom the leading part was writtne. Miss O'Niel will produce. 
  13. ^ Bell, Robert H. (Summer 1983). "Bertrand Russell and the Eliots" 52 (3): 309–325. Retrieved 6 October 2015. 
  14. ^ Wallace, Irving; Wallace, Amy; Wallechinsky, David; Wallace, Sylvia (2008). The Intimate Sex Lives of Famous People. Feral House. pp. 492–493. ISBN 9781932595291. 
  15. ^ Burn, Michael (May 18, 1972). "Bertrand Russell: St. George and the Dogma" (58481). London, England: Times. p. 18. 
  16. ^ "Queen Alexandra and "L'Enfant Prodique"" (41094). London, England: Times. The Times Digital Archive. February 19, 1916. p. 10. It was played by the original cast, except that Colette O'Niel (Lady Constance Malleson) took the part of Phrynette, Mlle. Andrée Mielly being Pierrot and M. Gilbert Dalleu Pierrot père. 
  17. ^ Turcon, Sheila (2010). "What did Colette know and when did she know it?". Russell: the Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies 30 (Winter 2010-2011): 149–154. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  18. ^ "Euripides at The Old Vic" (42231). London, England: Times. The Times Digital Archive. October 15, 1919. p. 10. 
  19. ^ a b c d e Wearing, J.P. (2014). The London stage, 1920-1929 : a calendar of productions, performers, and personnel (Second edition. ed.). Rowman & Littlefield. p. 1034. ISBN 9780810893023. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  20. ^ "Drama at the Little Theatre - Clever Performance of Ibsen's "John Gabriel Borkman"" (12476). Hull, England: Daily Mail. September 29, 1925. p. 7. ...while Colette O'Niel, as the divorced Mrs. Wilton, made the most of the typical vamp character 
  21. ^ "Hull Little Theatre - Performers Who Will Be Seen in Next Week's Play" (12462). Hull, England: Daily Mail. September 12, 1925. p. 2. 
  22. ^ "Mixed Fair at Little Theatre - Fine Dramatic Acting and Excellent Comic Relief" (12482). Hull, England: Daily Mail. October 6, 1925. p. 5. 
  23. ^ "Little Theatre Anti-Climax - Unworthy Finish to Highly Successful Season" (12512). Hull, England: Daily Mail. November 10, 1925. p. 8. 
  24. ^ C.E.B. "Musical and Dramatic" (12509). Hull, England: Daily Mail. p. 6. 
  25. ^ Skal, David J.; Rains, Jessica (2009). Claude Rains: An Actor's Voice. University Press of Kentucky. p. 304. ISBN 9780813138855. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  26. ^ C.E.B. (October 28, 1927). "Musical and Dramatic" (13123). Hull,England: Daily Mail. p. 8. The Hull Repertory Theatre have a splendid play to offer on Monday next, that exquisite comedy, “The Cradle Song.” of Martinez Sierra. Practically an all-woman cast is necessary, and patrons of the Little Theatre will welcome back the popular actress Colette O'Niel, which in addition to the clever performers Mr Whatmore is fortunate to have in this company will be Rita Trekelle in an important part. 
  27. ^ Gardiner, Bennitt (1980). "The Wisdom of Colette". Russell: the Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies: 31–39. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Foster, John Wilson (2008) in Irish Novels 1890–1940 (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 478–81.

External links[edit]

  • "Lady Constance Malleson fonds". McMaster University Library. The William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections. Retrieved 6 October 2015.