Winifred Emery, born in Manchester, was a fourth-generation actor; her father, grandfather, and great grandfather were all imminent actors. She first appeared on stage in 1870, and about a decade later in 1881 she joined Sir Henry Irving‘s company, eventually touring with them, including Ellen Terry, in the United States. During her years with Irving she play Nerissa and Jessica in The Merchant of Venice and Olivia in Twelfth Night. After she left Irving, she joined Wilson Barrett during 1890-91 and played in Hamlet. After returning from a tour in the US with Irving, she married fellow actor Cyril Maude in 1888.
Remembered mostly for her comedic performances, Emery acted with most of the important leading men and their companies during her career. Her other parts in Shakespeare included Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing (1905) with Beerbohm Tree, and in 1908, Mistress Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor.