Irene Rooke first appeared on stage in 1895; after she joined Ben Greet’s company she had the opportunity to play a number of roles in Shakespeare: Viola, Ophelia, Perdita, Miranda, Desdemona, Hero, and Rosalind. She played in London for the first time in 1897 as Ophelia opposite Edward Gordon Craig’s Hamlet at the Olympic Theatre. Rooke did not return to Shakespeare until 1910 when she played Viola for Miss Horniman at Manchester’s Gaiety Theatre; she played Viola again in 1914. In 1915, again in Manchester at the New Theatre, she played Portia and Desdemona. There is no record of her acting in Shakespeare again after 1915.
Despite a quite busy career on the stage, she played in twenty films between 1916 and 1932. One of which was The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots (1923) as Catherine de’ Medici alongside Fay Compton who played the lead, Mary Stuart.