Maud Jeffries was born in Mississippi and made her New York debut in 1889. Although she played only minor parts, she was noticed the next year by Wilson Barrett, who invited her to join his company where she had her first chance to play parts in Shakespeare--among them Desdemona and Olivia in Twelfth Night.
In 1897 Jeffries toured Australia with Wilson Barrett; she was back in London two years later, but returned to Australia in 1904 where she joined Julius Knight to act in a number of plays with him in 1905-6. In 1904 she had married, and so quit the stage to settle with her husband in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1906.
In the picture above we see Maud Jeffries in the part of Mercia, the Christian girl in The Sign of the Cross. Barrett Wilson (1846-1904) played many Shakespeare parts as an actor-manager, but his greatest success was The Sign of the Cross, a play he wrote and starred in as "Marcus Superbus," a Roman patrician who falls in love with a Christian girl and goes to meet his death with her in the arena where the lions await them. The play was tremendously popular and, as The Oxford Companion to the Theatre tells us, the play "made a fortune" for Wilson.
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