Ellen Terry (1849-1928) had many legendary partnerships with Henry Irving, with one of the most successful being her Portia to his Shylock in The Merchant of Venice. She first played Portia opposite Irving in 1879 in one of their earliest teamings at the Lyceum Theatre, with the production being such an overwhelming success that it ran an unbelievable 250 consecutive performances, by far the longest continuous run of the play in history. She returned to it many times in her career, having another triumph in New York in 1883 and made her farewell to the Lyceum in the role in 1902. Portia clearly had a special place in the great Terry's heart, as she made her final appearance with Irving in a special all-star benefit performance of The Merchant of Venice at Drury Lane in aid of the Actors' Benevolent Trust in 1903. William Winter wrote "The stage Portias of the past has usually been a didactic lady, self-contained, formal, conventional, and oratorical. Ellen Terry came, and Portia was figured exactly as she lives in the pages of Shakespeare - an imperial and yet an enchanting woman, dazzling in her beauty, royal in her dignity, as ardent in temperament as she is fine in brain and various and splendid in personal peculiarities and feminine charm."

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