Henrietta Alice Metcalf: Performing Arts Photographic Collection

Online gallery of digitalised images available to browse
Sarah Bernhardt; "Dame aux Camelias"; Photographer: The Falk Studios; Sydney
From ExploreUK (thanks to Cathryn Setz for the link):
Henrietta Alice McCrea was born into a wealthy Chicago family in 1888. She was taken to Paris, France at an early age and spoke French as her native tongue. She was married twice; first to the landscape painter Willard Lloyd Metcalf (1858-1925) and for a short time to the author Marcus Aurelius Goodrich (1897-1991). Both marriages ended in divorce, but she reverted to Metcalf's name for the rest of her life. She was an avid fan of theater and actors and amassed a large collection of autographed photographs and other memorabilia. Metcalf also translated French works into English; Alexandre Dumas' play Camille and Anatole France's story Our Lady's Juggler.

In 1928 she began an affair with Thelma Wood, the lover of the novelist Djuna Barnes. This prompted Barnes to satirize Metcalf in her novel, Nightwood. Metcalf appears as the character Jenny Petherbridge. Metcalf and Wood's relationship lasted until 1943, and they did not part on the best of terms.

In 1952, Metcalf adopted a son, named Addison Metcalf, and left her considerable estate to him when she died in 1981. Addison Metcalf went on to found The Henrietta Alice Metcalf Memorial Scholarship at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Note: Metcalf often spelled her first name in the French style: Henriette. Henrietta Alice Metcalf, Henriette Alice Metcalf, Henriette McCrea Metcalf, Henrietta McCrea Metcalf, Henrietta Metcalf, and Henriette Metcalf are all forms used during her lifetime and subsequently.


The collection consists of two hundred and sixty-one images of actors and actresses from the early 20th century. Many of the photographs have been autographed by the performers, several with personal notes to the collection's creator or family. [Read More]

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