Starring: Francesca Annis (Lillie Langtry), Catherine Feller (Dominique), Peggy Ann Wood (Mrs. Le Breton), Anton Rodgers (Edward Langtry), Denis Lill (Prince of Wales), Peter Egan (Oscar Wilde), Jennie Linden (Patsy Cornwallis-West), Patrick Holt (Dean Le Breton), John Barcroft (Francis Knollys), Brian Deacon (Frank Miles), Adam Bareham (Clement Le Breton), Don Fellows (James M. Whistler), Ann Firbank (Princess Alexandra) (Alix), David Gwillim (Arthur Jones), Edgar Wreford (Lord Suffield), Phillip York (Moreton Frewen), John Castle (Prince Louis of Battenberg), Vernon Dobtcheff (George Lewis), Debbie Farrington (Sally), Basil Hoskins (John Everett Millais), Sheila Mitchell (Charlotte Knollys), Wanda Moore (Lady Georgiana Dudley), Alex Scott (Sir Allen Young), Joanna Wake (Mrs. Wheeler), James Warwick (Hugo de Bath), Anthony Ainley (Lord Carrington), David Allister (Edward Michael), Maggie Bates, Christopher Bramwell (Robert Peel), John Bryans (C.J. Freake), Annette Crosbie (Henrietta Labouchere), Joanna David (Jeanne Marie), Edward Dentith (Lord Ranelagh), David Dixon (Prince Leopold), Norwich Duff (Reporter), Simon Fisher-Turner (Reggie Le Breton), Paul Gregory (Ian Malcolm), Garrick Hagon (Bury Dasent), Robert Hartley (Beverly), John Humphry (Lord Rosslyn), Jason James (Equerry), Nicholas Jones (Squire Abington), John Justin (Prince Paul Esterhazy, David King (Sydney Grundy), Penelope Lee (Lady de Grey), Yvonne Manners (Lady Wharncliffe), Sheila Reed (Queen Victoria), George Roubicek (Pierre Lorillard), Michael Shannon (Freddie Gerbhard), Simon Shepherd (Lord Alfred Douglas) (Bosie), Jill Simcox (Princess May), Derek Smith (King Leopold), Keith Varnier (King George V), Terence Davies (Wilkinson), Anthony Head (William Le Breton).
story of beautiful British actress Lillie Langtry admired by Prince of Wales and Oscar Wilde
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film:
Episode I. Emilie.
On the shore of the island of Jersey, one man on horseback challenges another fellow on horseback to a short race. The second man gets way ahead of the first man and the first man realizes that the second man is not a man at all, but a woman. He apologizes to her for the mistake and tries to engage her in conversation. He is astounded by her beauty. Instead of responding to him, the woman turns and rides away.
The man is Lt. Langley, who is the son of the Archbishop of Canterbury. When he meets his friend Edward he raves about the woman's beauty. He says although she was dressed as a boy, she is feminine perfection; perfectly beautiful and pure. Undoubtedly, she is a Jersey girl. Edward says the island is full of winners.
Langley goes out riding every day hoping to find the young lady again. And one day he sees her. This time the woman stays long enough for him to talk to her. He tells her that he is not here by chance. He deliberately looked for her. He is posted at the local garrison. Her name is Emilie, but everyone calls her Lillie. Langley goes on a short ride with Lillie.
One day Langly goes to pay his respects to the Dean of Deity at St. Xavier college, Rev. William Corbet le Breton. The Dean introduces Langley to his children. He is absolutely floored when he sees that Lillie is one of the Dean's children. She quickly retires, but he does get to meet brothers Clement and Reggie. He gets a chance to speak briefly with Lillie. He tells her that his heart leapt when he saw her. Langley is impressed with her level of education and Lillie says that her dad believes in the education of women. Everyone then goes to church where the congregation sings.
Langley looks for Lillie on the beach again. No luck. His commander asks him what's wrong with him. He has been moping around. The commander tells him he better buck up or else. So Langley decides to tell the commander what it is that is bothering him. He tells him about the young woman. The commander tells him to call on her. Langley goes to see the Dean again. He asks permission to marry Lillie. The Dean seems a bit shocked. He says that Lillie is still shy and reticent because she is only fifteen years of age and has the purity of a child. Now it is Langley's turn to be shocked. The embarrassed Lieutenant not only leaves the Dean's place, but transfers off the island entirely to a new post.
Lillie and her brothers play ghost pranks on people walking in or near St. Xavier graveyard. News gets to mom and dad and they wonder what they are going to do with their children. They are especially concerned about Lillie who has grown up like a boy with her brothers. So mom decides to visit the Suffields in London so Lillie might be presented to society. Reggie wants to go to London with her sister, but Lillie tells him that dad can't afford to send all of them. Before leaving for London Lillie is fitted for her first ball gown.
At the ball in London Lillie feels very awkward and shy. A young man named Georgie makes fun of her gown behind her back. It is so out of style. Lillie has never waltzed before and when Georgie is forced to dance with her, she keeps stepping on his feet. And Georgie is very rude to her. She stops dancing and sits down, her eyes welling up.
Back on Jersey, Reggie listens to the tale and refers to the people at the ball as a bunch of stuffed shirts. Reggie introduces her to a new friend, Michel Corbet. The three of them go fishing and then go swimming.
Brother Clem is back from the military. Reggie greets him happily. Clem asks for Lillie and is told that she is with Corbet on the beach. Alone Lillie and Michel kiss. These days she is always with Michel. Her father seems very disturbed by this. Lillie tells Michel that she wants to go with him out on his boat. She is very used to the sea and sailing.
When Lillie comes home, her father talks with her and demands to know where she has been. Lillie tells him and he becomes even more agitated. She tells him that that she loves him and thinks of him all the time. But he has never touched her. This is a great relief to her father and he apologizes: "I'm sorry I doubted you." He adds that it is unthinkable for her to go on with the young man. He is not for her. He ends with: "I forbid you to see him!"
Lillie is very distraught, so her big brother Clem speaks with her. He reveals the "secret" that Corbet is their father's child by another woman. Therefore, Corbet is their half-brother. Lillie is stunned at the news. With a very straight face she says: "I shan't ever cry."
Reggie complains to Lillie that these days she is always reading. Lillie replies: "I must do as others do." Reggie is not happy with this answer. She tells Reggie that she wants to go to London. Everything is there. Then she thinks about getting married as a way to get to London. Reggie sighs: "I thought we would go on the two of us, just as we are."
Mr. Edward Langtry, a friend of the Reverend, arrives at the Reverend's house. On his boat he was caught in a storm for four hours and is exhausted. He is amazed when he sees Lillie. He cannot believe how much she has changed. He is very impressed by her beauty. Lillie tells him that her brother William is soon to marry Elizabeth, the late Mrs. Langtry's sister. Edward speaks of his late wife who died of consumption. He tells Lillie that he has yachts and a cutter. Lillie says: "You must be very rich." She adds that she would love to sail with him on his vessel the Red Gauntlet.
Lillie goes out sailing with Edward Langtry. Later Edward tells the Reverend that as a wedding gift for William he will have the reception and wedding ball at the Yacht Club for the bride and groom.
William marries Elizabeth. At the reception Edward is introduced to Arthur Jones, a close friend of Reggie's. (Edward feels a bit threatened by the young man as a possible rival for Lillie's affections.) Edward insists on having the first dance and Lillie asks for a waltz. Watching Lillie dance perfectly with Edward, neither Arthur or Reggie are happy.
Arthur speaks with Lillie. He asks her how could she marry Edward Langtry: "How could you?" He then wonders out loud if she is marrying him or his yacht. Lillie is not pleased at the remark. Arthur goes on, saying that there are more honorable ways of getting off the island. He says some women finance it through prostitution and suggests what she is doing is not much different. And besides she has only known Edward for six weeks.
Edward and Lillie marry. There are very few people at the church.
Sailing from Jersey Lillie speaks of going to London. But Edward says he hates London. She begs him until he gets angry a bit and says: "You are my wife now. Do as I say. Now you just sit there and you look pretty." Lillie is a bit stunned by this response.
Episode II. Mrs. Langtry.
Edward and Mrs. Langtry arrive at his home. Lillie meets the servants. They are so reserved that she tells her husband: "I don't think they like me." Edward tells her that things are more formal here. She must keep a proper distance with the servants. He tells her that Mary will show her the way to the main bedroom. Mary gets into bed. Edward comes up later, gets in bed and has sex with his wife.
Edward gets up very early and this puzzles Lillie. She asks him to come back to bed. He refuses. She tells him that she feels bad because she did not please him in bed. Edward is shocked and says that he was perfectly satisfied. And, he tells his wife, this isn't something to talk about. Edward leaves.
When Edward returns home, Lillie asks him where he has been. He says he went to check on Gertrude, his cutter. He says she looks promising as a racer. Lillie has been waiting for his return all day. He says he will work out a routine for her. Edward learns that Lillie knows nothing about how to deal with servants. She apologizes for not fixing him dinner; she had no money with which to buy food. Edward laughs.
Lillie tells Edward that she wants to go sailing with him. She adds: "I don't want to be left alone., I've never been alone. I couldn't stand it." We next see Lillie sailing with Edward in the International Yacht Race. She is very excited about it and is absolutely thrilled when they win the race.
Lillie is on Jersey visiting with her parents. Clem has left the army. Now he is studying law. Her father tells her that Langtry has been advertising his ships for sale. The man has no money, except for a small allowance from the family. The yachts will have to go. The Red Gauntlet is already gone. In fact, her husband misrepresented himself. She will have enough to live on, but will have to be more frugal. Reggie speaks with Lillie. He takes an I-told-you-so attitude. She married a boring oaf; she sold herself. She asks Reggie: "Why do you hurt me?" She tries to explain to him that the island was a prison for her and the only way to escape was to marry. When she tries to touch Reggie, he says: "Don't touch me. Keep out of my sight!"
Father speaks to his son-in-law. Edward says that because he's a gentleman, he can't go looking for work. Lord Ranelagh arrives at the home with his "daughters". After dinner Edward talks with the men with Lillie is just there to be seen and not heard. He tells the men that his first wife was a Jersey girl. Lillie is so bored and hurt that she excuses herself. She goes upstairs and sits by the fire. Edward comes in to ask her why she left. She doesn't feel good, she says. He advises her to stop moping about her brother Reggie, who has not answered any of her letters. She says that she can't sleep at night, that she suffers from nausea. Edward now thinks that she is pregnant. He says: "This is just what the family has been waiting for." He goes to get Dr. Lewis, one of the dinner guests to look at her. A little later the doctor returns. He says that she has a high fever and that there is not sign of a child. She has typhoid.
Lillie is delirious. After two weeks Edward comes in to ask about her current status. The doctor says that it will be awhile before she recovers.
Dr. Lewis says to the nurse: "Thank God!" Her fever broke. Soon Lillie says that her headaches are gone and the skin rash too. She complains to the doctor that sometimes she doesn't even see Edward. She says she has no one to talk to, except for the doctor himself. In fact, she says he is the first person to be kind to her since her marriage. She begs him: "Help me! Help me! If you don't help me you might as well have let me die!" To help Lillie, Dr. Lewis speaks with Edward. He tells him that Lillie desperately wants to go to London. They will have to go to London for months, if not move there permanently. The doctor warns that if he doesn't take her to London, his wife's life may be in danger, and, at the least, his marriage will end.
Reggie rides very close (too close) to the cliffs of Jersey.
In London Lillie looks out the window. She is excited just to be in London. The couple has been sight-seeing a great deal at Lillie's insistence. Edward asks her about sex, which they have not had for quite awhile.
Lillie receives a telegram from her father. Reggie suffered a riding accident. He's dying. Lillie rushes home. When she arrives, she is told that the funeral and burial have already taken place. Reggie's horse stumbled and he went over the cliff. He asked for Lillie. Lillie asks Clem if it was an accident. He says yes, but she asks how can he be sure. She adds: "It's like losing a part of myself." Edward stayed behind in London. She says he felt humiliated. He felt he could not come because he could not come on his own yacht.
Back with Edward he tells her that he has joined the Victoria Sporting Club. He complains that she brought back with her Dominique, an Italian woman, as her servant. He then tells Lillie that he is going to the club. Lillie objects: "But I only just got back." Dominique sees a picture of a lovely woman in the paper being read by Lillie. She comments that quite a few women get their pictures in the paper (women known as professional beauties) and they are all "friends" of the Prince of Wales.
Coming out of the Royal Aquarium, Lord Ranelagh runs into Edward and Lillie. He invites her to come and visit him at his place where he has open house on Sundays. She makes Edward take her to Lord Ranelagh's house. Edward is very unhappy to have to accompany her. He tells her that he told her that they were not expected. But very soon Lillie's beauty starts attracting a great deal of notice. Lady Olivia Sebright is really taken with her. She invites her to an artist soirée that she runs, saying: "You are really very pretty. You should be seen."
Edward tells Lillie that they are leaving London. Lillie accuses him of deliberately making their stay in London boring so that she would agree to return home with him. She then tells her husband that she is going to the soiree even if she has to go alone.
Edward accompanies Lillie to Lady Sebright's place. Sebright introduces her to Mr. Millais, a painter. He tells her that he is Jersey born too. They then meet painter Frederick Leighton and he wants to paint her portrait. A Mr. Miles draws a picture of her and shows it to her. And, finally, James McNeil Whistler asks her to sit for a portrait. Millet escorts Lillie into the dining room. Edward is left behind to walk in by himself. He obviously feels very awkward.
Episode III. The Jersey Lily.
Edward complains to Lillie: "How can we accept thirty-seven invitations from people we don't even know? . . . Some of these people are the cream of society. . . . We won't fit in." Lillie explains that she wants a season in London. Ever since she was very young she has longed to be a part of the excitement of the London season, the theatre and the parties. Edward says they have been in London for seven months and the swells haven't really noticed them. But now they have, says Lillie. Edward is still upset.
Lillie and Dominique look at the many pictures in a shop window of the ladies of society known as the "P.B.s" (the professional beauties). Then all of a sudden in the window Dominique sees a copy of the drawing done by Mr. Miles of Lillie. The women are both excited. Dominique goes in the shop to buy a print.
Mr. Miles comes in to see Lillie. He gives her a copy of his original drawing. He raves about her beauty and asks her to pose for him. Lillie tells him to ask her husband and give him the copy of the original. When Edward comes in, Mr. Miles gives him the copy and Edward says: "I must say it looks a bit like Lillie." Mr. Miles is none to pleased by the remark. When he leaves Edward tells his wife that she shouldn't encourage this Miles fellow.
Lillie asks Edward for some new clothes, but Edward pleads a shortage of money. So Lillie says she will wear the same black dress all the time and say she is in mourning for her late brother Reggie. Lillie and Edward have dinner at Lord Wharncliffe's place. There the painter Mr. Poynter asks her to sit for a portrait. Lillie also meets Mrs. Cornwallis-West and Lord Randolph Churchill (father of Winston Churchill).
Millais shows Lillie and Edward his studio. Mrs. Cornwallis-West comes to call. She welcomes Lillie as a professional beauty because, she says, there not enough p.b.'s to go around now. Before she leaves she asks Lillie to cover for her by providing an alibi. She says she will return the favor one day. The photographer Ellis comes in and asks about Lillie sitting for a photograph
Lillie goes to Miles's studio. There she is introduced to Princess Louise, the daughter of Queen Victoria. The Princess urges Lillie to cooperate with Miles so he can finish her full portrait. She also says that she hopes they can see each other soon. Whistler tells Lillie that she should enjoy the chorus of praise she is receiving and by the end of the year she will be the most beautiful woman in London. The writer Oscar Wilde comes into the studio. Miles calls himself the discoverer of Lillie.
Lillie, in the company of Oscar Wilde, visits the photographer Ellis. Later Lillie attends another social meeting. There Mrs. Wheeler complains about Lillie being a professional beauty while not being of the right social class. Mrs. Dudley, who is deemed the most beautiful woman in England, remarks that no one will remember her name in a few weeks.
Lillie comes home to find a very angry Edward. He is mad that she is an hour late.
Lillie and Wilde visit with Millais in his studio. The men comment that the photographs and portraits of Lillie have made her a celebrity. Millais, however, says that there is something wrong with his own portrait of her. His wife tells him that it is the hands. It looks like Lillie doesn't know what to do with them. Millais kisses his wife for her insight and wonders what he can do to change the hands. He finally decides to have her hold the famous red lily found on the island of Jersey.
At an exhibition of Millais's paintings, a lot of people come out to see the newest portrait of Lillie. The artist unveils his work of Lily holding the Jersey lily. In the crowd Oscar Wilde shouts that Lillie is the "Jersey Lily" and the nickname sticks. The portrait is voted the picture of the year. Those in charge of the exhibit had to rope her portrait off for fear of it being damaged by the large crowds. Edward complains that he can't even take a walk with Lillie because she attracts so much attention. Oscar Wilde asks Edward and Lillie to his place for dinner, but Edward tells him that they have a previous engagement. When he leaves, Edwards says: "I don't like that fellow. I don't like him hanging around." He refers to him as a "damn Bohemian".
Lillie is there when Oscar Wilde, a bit of a ham, recites his poetry for a number of distinguished women. Mrs. Cornwallis-West wants to borrow Lillie's famous black dress and Lillie agrees to lend it to her. When Lillie examines the returned dress, she is shocked. It is all torn up. Her dress is ruined. She asks her husband to pay for the making of another such black dress. He again is reluctant, but agrees to the project. Lady Dudley pays a call on Lillie. She explains that King Leopold of Belgium is coming and she wants Lillie to be there to greet him. The only problem is that her husband has a morbid fear of black. She asks Lillie to wear something else than black for at least one day. So Lillie has another dress made for her. The dressmaker tells her that the cost will be negligible if she agrees to tell people who made the dress for her.
At the ball for King Leopold, Lillie wears a beautiful white dress. Everyone stops to admire her upon her arrival. Mr. Dudley tells Lillie that he had been instructed to escort her to see the King as soon as she arrived. He introduces her to King Leopold. The King tells her: "I did not know England possessed so rare a jewel. It was worth coming so far." He dances the first dance with her.
Episode IV. The New Helen.
Dominique bangs on the bedroom door. She tells Lillie that King Leopold of Belgium is here and he is alone. Lillie and her husband are still in bed. Lillie hurries to get dressed and goes down to see the King. Leopold tells her that he had the irresistible impulse to see her again. He came so early because it is the only time he can spare from his schedule. His flattery continues with his comment that her beauty drew him back. And now he wants to renew their acquaintance in less formal surroundings. He wants to call on her again.
Mrs. Cornwallis-West introduces Moreton Frewen to Lillie, but she is told that they already met last night at a dinner. Patsy tells Lillie that Frewen is the most eligible bachelor in town. The Prince of Wales rides by and notices Lillie.
King Leopold shows up again at Lillie's house. Lillie tells Dominique to stay and serve the tea to them because she doesn't want to be alone with the King. Leopold tells Lillie to keep her afternoons for him. The visits will be secret. Lillie says that her husband might not understand. Leopold says that he knows that while she is beautiful, she is also poor. He then pushes himself on her and starts to take off her clothes. She retreats from his advancements.
The news gets around about the King Leopold incident, thanks greatly to Mrs. Cornwallis-West. A danger lies in this. If she offends the King, he could ruin her position in society.
King Leopold shows up again at Lillie's home, but this time she tells her staff that he is not to be allowed in. And, indeed, they do not let the King in. He gets mad, turns around and throws the flowers he brought for Lillie on the ground.
Lillie speaks with Oscar Wilde. She tells him that she has told Edward about King Leopold. At this time Prince Leopold (Queen Victoria's youngest son), accompanied by Lord Suffield, comes in to see Lillie. He is taken by her beauty. He says he wanted to meet her ever since his sister Louise told him about her. Since Lord Suffield is an old friend of Lillie and her family the men let the two speak to each alone for a few minutes. Suffield tells her that everyone was talking about the new beauty (namely Lillie). But he had no idea that this Mrs. Langtry was Lillie. He invites Lillie to a concert at his place.
At Lord Suffield's place, Patsy blabs about the King Leopold incident. It's the talk of society. When Lillie and Edward come in, there is an awkward moment of silence. But then the people seem to rush to her to tell her that they are on her side in the matter of King Leopold. The couple are introduced to Sir Allen Young who always seems to be searching for the North Pole. Lillie receives more praise for her beauty. Joaquin Miller, a poet from California, tells her that he wrote a poem for her.
Miles finishes his newest drawing of Lillie. King Leopold sees it and immediately wants to buy it. Miles agrees to sell the portrait to him.
Moreton Frewen pays a call on Lillie. He says he wants to talk to her. He loves horses, fishing and hunting. Moreton offers to teach Lillie to ride. She accepts. The next day the couple goes riding in Hyde Park. Moreton shows her how to ride side saddle. As they ride, Lillie takes off on her horse with a very worried Moreton trying to catch up with her. He scolds Lillie for already knowing how to ride and not telling him.
Edward comes home to see Oscar Wilde sitting on the steps outside. He wants to know why he is sitting on the steps, but Oscar just urges him to go inside. Oscar says that he is deeply involved in thought. Inside Edward asks Lillie about Oscar and she explains that he's writing a poem to her.
Prince Leopold visits Lillie. He says Miles's drawing of her now hangs on his wall in his room at Windsor Castle. Lillie asks if he is all right and he says he is a little tired. He says to Lillie that he hopes he can come again. Of course. One last matter. The incident with the King of Belgium could have caused a great scandal. Lillie assures him that she won't pursue the matter and the Prince thanks her. After the Prince leaves, Oscar comes to visit. He has finished his poem to her. She will read it when he has it specially published for her. He invites Lillie and her husband to dine with him, but Lillie tells him that they are going to a reception at Devonshire House. Oscar says it will be the final test for her before she becomes a true professional beauty, the type favored by the Prince of Wales. The people in society push forward the professional beauties in the hopes that when they becomes mistresses of the Crown Prince, he will come to their houses and thus give them more prestige among their peers. Oscar adds that he has felt jealousy over her. He kisses her on the lips. Lillie says that she will arrive at the reception and then leave unnoticed.
Boy, was Lillie wrong. She did not go unnoticed. How could she? The California poet Miller stops her to recite his poem to her and to spread rose petals before her as she walks to the presentation line. The host Lord Hartington is so impressed by Lillie's beauty that when she says she admires his blooming water lilies, he steps into the water to retrieve a great many water lily flowers for her. On their way home, Edward is very upset because they threw the wet water lilies onto his lap just before their carriage started for home. Lillie thinks it is very funny and can't stop herself from laughing. Edward gets very mad at her.
While Lillie tries to sleep, a pretty drunk Edward comes into the room to wake her. He says that he is sorry for getting so angry. Edward then tells her: "I don't know how you do it." She always says the right thing to the right person at the right time. Lillie tells him not to worry about what people think. But Edward, still mad, replies: "I don't need any advice from you." He then asks her about sex, which they haven't had for a year. He kisses her but she pushes him back. He tells her: "You're not a decent wife anymore. You're a _____." He doesn't finish his last sentence.
Lillie reads Oscar's published poem to her. She says: "I don't feel worthy of it." Oscar says he calls her "The New Helen" because now he knows why men went to war for Helen of Troy. When he notices that she is very sad, he asks her what's wrong. She says her marriage is a sham. In private they have nothing to say to each other. She says it's her fault, but adds: "I can't bear for him to touch me." Naturally, Edward feels resentful. He talks about her "coldness". Lillie says that her head is in a whirl caused by all the events of the past few months. Before leaving Oscar tells Lillie: "I love you totally." He says it's because of her pure perfection. But, adds the homosexual Oscar Wilde, she must remain untouched. For him she will always and must always be just out of reach. Lillie tells him: "If you let me, I would show you I'm more real than the goddess you imagined." Wild responds: "That is the one truth I am frightened of." His last comment to Lillie is: "I hope you will forgive me if I run away."
Lillie is upset and wants to stay home. But Edward says he always has to go with her to events he doesn't like, so she can go to an event he likes. At the event Lillie sees the Prince of Wales. He tells her: "I have seen your portrait Mrs. Langtry. It doesn't do you justice." Since the Prince of Wales likes Lillie, the host conspires to make sure Edward escorts Mrs. Wheeler to dinner while assuring Lillie that he will seat her on the other side of the Crown Prince.
Episode V. Bertie.
Bertie goes to speak with his brother Leopold. He sees Lillie's portrait on his wall and they discuss the King Leopold matter. Leopold assures his brother that Lillie has no desire to be involved in a scandal. In fact, no one could be more discreet than Lillie. Bertie seems impressed. Their mother Queen Victoria is at Balmoral. Bertie asks about events at Balmoral, but Leopold tells him that he promised mother not to discuss these matters with his brother. Bertie gets upset and says about his mother: "She dislikes my opinions, my friends, my way of life and above all that I am not an imitation of father." Leopold says that he himself is only mama's secretary. Bertie says: "I have begged her to let me do some responsible work."
The famous artist Edward Poynter wants to paint Lillie's portrait. She tells her friends that she and Edward are moving to Norfolk Street. When Lillie leaves her friends, Whistler tells Miles and Wilde that "Our divinity is becoming devious. She says just enough to each, but tells everything to no one."
When she is in her new home, Whistler comes around to take a tour of the house. She shows off her "artistic" furniture, only to have Whistler tell her that it is fake. Whistler leaves and Moreton Frewen comes in. He tries to kiss Lillie, but she dodges his lips. They go riding. Moreton is greatly disturbed by "Langtry's Lancers", seven fellows on horseback always riding right behind them.
Edward falls down at home. Lillie hurries over to him. She is disgusted when she sees that he is drunk. Lillie calls the host of the night's event to say that they will not be going out. Whistler arrives. He has brought some paint and some feathers to improve the look of the over-stuffed living room. He even paints the ceiling with a nature scene.
Lillie comes to see Suffield as he requested. He is with three other men. When they are all together he takes Lillie to another room and retires with the three men. It's a "set-up". Bertie shows up in the room. He says that she may leave if she wishes, but she wants to stay.
Oscar, Whistler and Miles triy to see Lillie but she is not at home. Whistler observes that she's changing a great deal. She is now seeing Fricke the industrialist which means that she is keeping a private rendezvous with someone, says Oscar. Lillie's women friends also have a conversation about her changing. They know she is meeting privately with the Crown Prince. They also observe that Bertie can't stand being bored. He will make Lillie the Queen of Society, but for only one season.
Lillie is seen a great many times with Bertie. She attends a ball and goes riding with him. He watches her while Miles draws her portrait again. Lillie has heard about the mistresses lasting for only one season, so she has accepted that. Near the end of the season, Bertie, Lillie, Edward and many other members of society discuss what they will do at the end of the season. Bertie says that once the season is over, there is no reason to stay in town anymore. He is going to Austria; then to Balmoral for the shooting; Christmas at Sandringham; and then back in town in February or March.
Since Lillie and Edward are staying put after the season, many men offer her various options. Allen Young invites them on an excursion. Lord Ranelagh says that he is going to stay on Jersey, but he will not move there for the first few months after the season. He invites Lillie and her husband to stay at his place for two months. Lillie is very happy to accept his offer. Bertie is not pleased to see Lillie so happy.
On Jersey Arthur Jones and Lillie's mother greet the couple. Arthur tells Edward: "You're famous." And, of course, he's famous because Lillie is famous. Lillie tells everyone that they will all dine at government house. Mother is very impressed because she has never dined at government house.
Arthur talks with Lillie. He tells her: "I hate to see you so unhappy. You're like an actress playing a last part." Lillie admits that what he says is true. She says: "I fell in love with the yacht and married the man." About her society life, she says: "I was a season' novelty. The best is over." Then she complains that people don't really see her as she is, but rather just something created by a kind of hysteria. Arthur tells Lillie: "I've loved you ever since we were children." Lillie is amazed and says she had no idea.
Back from Jersey, Lillie goes to see Lord Suffield. She tells him that Edward did not care for life on Jersey. And now he is drinking all the time. She says that she is going to leave him. Suffield says that he hopes she is not talking about divorce. If she were to leave her husband, she would have to leave society and could never come back. He also asks her if there is someone else in her life. She mentions a fellow (Arthur Jones) on Jersey, but doesn't really know if she loves him. Lillie thinks that her society life is over now anyway for she has already had her one season. But Suffield says, on the contrary, he is in town on the Prince's business. The Crown Prince says he cannot live without her. If she says "yes" to Bertie, she will have a higher position than any woman has ever had. Indeed, she will be the most envied woman in the world. Lillie is interested.
Bertie visits Lillie at her home. She tells him that she his sorry to hear about illness in his family. It's typhus. Lillie mentions that she herself was almost killed by this disease. Edward is on a fishing trip with Sir Allen Young. Dominique says that Moreton Frewen wants to see her. Lillie tells her firmly: "Tell everyone I'm not at home." Bertie is impressed by her willingness to let all her suitors go. They kiss and Bertie says: "We have been fools to wait for so long." They embrace and kiss passionately.
Edward is very upset about his wife's relationship with Bertie. He became jealous of her many visits with the Crown Prince and started snooping around. He was able to read a letter from her to Bertie by examining the writing sheet below the sheet on which the letter was written. At a party, she tells Bertie what happened. He comments: "So that's what's the matter with him." He got jealous, says Lillie. Bertie tells her that it is time for her to meet his wife. Lillie is shocked, but he tells her that his wife asked to meet her.
When Edward receives a gift of gold cufflinks from Bertie he really complains to Lillie. He says he can't be bought by gifts. But then Lillie tells him that if they accept Bertie's recent invitation, Edward will be able to meet Queen Victoria herself. That completely changes Edward's attitude and he asks his wife what he should do to accept the invitation.
Lillie writes a letter to Arthur Jones.
Lillie meets Royal Princess Alexandra. She is very pleasant to Lillie and even invites her and her husband to Cown (spelling?). The men standing behind the women are a bit shocked. After the meeting, Bertie asks Lillie's impression of Alexandra. Lillie says: "I think you wife's the most wonderful woman I've ever met." Bertie says he agrees.
Arthur Jones comes to visit Lillie. Lillie is shocked and says that she was just writing a letter to him. Whistler and Wilde arrive. Whistler reads a nice paragraph in the paper about Lillie. But then Edward taunts Wilde by reading a part of the article that mocks Wilde. After Edward leaves, Lillie apologizes to Oscar. Arthur is none too pleased with all these men paying so much attention to Lillie.
Queen Victoria visits Leopold in his bedroom in Windsor Castle. She warns him not to follow Bertie's life-style and insists that he must rest and get well soon because she depends upon him. She turns to leave and sees Lillie's portrait by Miles on the bedroom wall. As the Queen takes down the picture, she says: "She's much too pretty. This has no place here. I'll see that it's disposed of." Leopold doesn't say a thing.
Lillie is going to the opera with the Prince of Wales. Someone asks her what she will do with Arthur. She says Arthur will leave on Thursday and they go to Cown (spelling?) on Friday.
Bertie takes Lillie on a carriage ride. He stops to show her a piece of land. There is where he is having a place built for her and him. He says it will be their place to meet and just be themselves.
Part VI. Let Them Stay.
Bertie and Lillie are at home relaxing in their new house. Bertie praises Lillie for her design of the place. The motto of the house is: "They say what they say, let them say." Lillie adds: "And let them say as long as they can't prove anything." Bertie wonders what Edward's reaction has been to her long absences. She says that Edward knows nothing. The guy has no idea what's going on. But here, says Lillie, Edward doesn't exist. Dominique comes in to announce the surprise arrival of Francis Knollys, Duke of Lancaster. The message he brings is that Queen Victoria has returned. And Rudolf, the Crown Prince of Austria, will be arriving and she wants Bertie to keep him entertained. This means that Bertie has to return to London.
At a ball Bertie talks with Edward. Disraeli the Prime Minister asks to be introduced to Lillie. The host is the Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild. Whistler speaks with Lillie. He asks her what she is thinking and then guesses she is thinking about Arthur. Lillie asks him how did he know that. Whistler says it was obvious. He adds that she should forget him because he would only hurt her rise to even higher positions. Crown Prince Rudolf finally arrives. He only dances with Lily.
At the ball Bertie says that he is going to Denmark to visit Alexandra's parents. She's been unhappy since their two sons went on their naval training cruise. Lillie is a little shocked, but counters with the information that Lord Wharnecliffe just invited Edward on a week's visit in Scotland. Bertie says: "Oh, no!" Moreton tries to dance with Lillie, but Rudolf grabs her away from him. Bertie is not happy that Rudolf insists on dancing every dance with Lillie. He was supposed to be dancing with the sister of Baron Rothschild.
Bertie and the other royalty retire to the royal table. Then suddenly Lord Suffield comes to ask Lillie to please come and sit at the royal table. Rudolf refuses to sit with Rothschild's sister and demands that Lillie to be at his side. The other women are scandalized, but Lillie goes to sit at the royal table.
At home Lillie is surrounded by flowers sent from Bertie and Baron Rothschild for her services in handling Rudolf. She has Dominique mail a letter to Arthur Jones for her. Edward comes in to object to more scandal caused by Lillie. Lillie asks him what is he complaining about and he responds that he is not complaining. He is merely wondering how it will all end. Then he abruptly walks out. Lillie is a bit distressed by his rude behavior.
Rudolf, accompanied by his aide Colonel Hertzl, pops in to visit Lillie. He wants to know if she will be at Devonshire House where they can be together again. But the Colonel does not approve of Rudolf's behavior and wants to leave. He keeps pressuring Rudolf until they do leave. (Later Whistler, Miles and Wilde discuss the interaction with Lillie and Rudolf.) Rudolf comes back to Lillie's place. He says that their carriage was in an accident and he decided to take advantage of the situation to see Lillie again. He proceeds to make more advances to Lillie. She tries to discourage him by saying that her husband is just across the way. Rudolf still persists. He says: "Let me kiss you." Lillie responds: "Then may I go and change?" He tries to give her a ring, but she resists. He tells her that his father has a mistress. Indeed, gentlemen lend their mistresses to each other. Grabbing at her he tears her dress. He says: "I love you." At this time Edward comes in. Rudolf, in making his exit, drops the ring and after his exit, Lillie picks it up and puts it on her hand.
When Bertie learns about Rudolf's crush on Lilly he tells his staff to have Rudolf recalled to Austria. He wants the man out of the country. He is especially mad about Rudolf's remark that Lillie as a mistress is not fit to be presented at court.
Bertie rides slowly with Lillie in the park. Tongues wag. Some of the men who know Lillie remark that she is the first official mistress of the Crown Prince. Moreton says: "She used us."
Mother is with Lillie, while father flirts with Dominique. Lillie dresses to meet Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria, Bertie and Alexandra are on the presentation line. Lillie kisses the hand of the Queen and then curtsies to her. Victoria says absolutely nothing. Lillie goes on to curtsy to Bertie and Alexandra.
Whistler, Wilde, Mrs. Cornwallis-West and Mr. and Mrs. Lord Rosslyn are waiting for Lillie to arrive to pose for a portrait by Whistler. They discuss the fact that John Ruskin the critic was very rough on Whistler's painting. Whistler is going to sue him. Lillie is busy getting ready to go to Whistler's studio when Arthur Jones arrives. She is shocked to see Arthur but tells him she really has to go. Arthur Jones follows her and shows up at Whistler's studio. Lillie talks with Whistler about using his place for her rendezvous with Arthur. Whistler leaves and Lillie and Arthur embrace passionately.
Lillie and Arthur arrive back home. She is a bit shocked when she hears that Sarah Bernhardt is coming to the ball and Bertie is the one who invited her.
On stage Sarah Bernhardt finishes her performance. Bertie and Alexandra are there. Mrs. Cornwallis-West talks with Lillie complaining about the Crown Prince showing off Ms. Bernhardt to everyone. But Lillie has already had breakfast with Sarah and has decided to be her friend. Patsy responds: "Oh, Lillie. That's brilliant."
Lillie and Sarah act like they are very close. Sarah says she wants to be presented at court. Bertie decide to escort her to the theatre. It ends up that all three (Bertie, Lillie and Sarah) go together to the theatre. Later alone, Lillie tells Sarah that she (Lillie) only has beauty, not talent, while Sarah has both. She also tells Sarah that she is going to take Arthur Jones to the house built for her by Bertie.
Arthur tells Lillie that he has to go. Lillie begs him to stay with her. Arthur responds by telling her to leave Edward. Lillie is not certain she can. She tells Arthur: "I love you. I've never loved anyone but you." But Arthur knows that Lillie is involved with Bertie; hence, the house. Lillie lies and tells Arthur that her friends built the house for her. Arthur asks her: "And how long will you go on taking?" He says he is going home, because she can't leave her new fancy life.
Whistler speaks with Lillie. He won his case against John Ruskin, winning only one farthing. And Whistler has to pay the court costs, which are bankrupting him. He has to say good-bye to Lillie. He tells her it will be awhile before they will see each other again and leaves.
Lillie and Patsy are at a ball. Bertie comes dressed in a clown outfit (?). He is shocked and mad when he sees that Lillie is dressed very similarly. He tells Lillie he is not happy because this draws attention to them both. Lillie says she is sorry, but then complains: "I feel aimless." She then deliberately calls him Bertie. He growls at her that she is supposed to say "Sir" when they are public. This only makes Lillie madder. She grabs some ice and puts it down the back of the Crown Prince. She laughs defiantly and loudly and he walks out of the room followed by the majority of the people.
Episode VII. The Sailor Prince.
Lillie decides to go to Jersey. Edward is out on a trip. Oscar Wilde and Frank Miles arrive. Lillie tells them about the scandal where she put ice down the back of the Crown Prince. As a result of the scandal, she was ignored in the park and eight or nine invitations to dinner were canceled. She says if she is to be ostracized socially, she may as well not be here. But Wilde tells her that she is not going anywhere. They need her at home. The Freakes are giving a ball at their new home and Millais wants her to pose as a character from one of his paintings. Lillie is intrigued.
Bertie is at the ball. He knows Lillie will be there. Bertie sees her posing as a Scottish lass meeting a highwayman. When the posing is finished, Bertie congratulates Lillie. He then goes off with her.
Back at home, Edward arrives. He has to go back to Ireland and asks Lillie to go with him. She refuses and he is miffed.
Lillie goes horseback riding in the park with Bertie.
At the office of Town Talk one of the workers asks Mr. Rosenberg about running the Langtry story. He is afraid that they might get sued for libel. The story is about Edward Langtry petitioning for a divorce from Lillie and naming Bertie and un-named others as co-respondents. They have a "quote" from Edward saying: "Damn this country. Nothing belongs to a fellow here -- even his wife is everybody's property." Rosenberg wants to run the story because he is moste interested in boosting sales and he doesn't think they would dare sue him because of the publicity that would result.
Mrs. Cornwallis-West visits Lillie to tell her about the article in Town Talk. Lillie's comment is "Damn!" She also comments that sometime she wishes Edward would divorce her. At least it would stop all the lying and pretending.
Edward returns from Ireland. He tells Lillie that there in no law in Ireland. It's an undeclared war, he says. "The Finnians are burning houses, maiming cattle . .. of any farmer whose landlord is English." Lilly asks what do the Irish want and Edward says it's independence in the form of home rule for Ireland. Lillie says that what he is saying is that he has returned empty-handed from Ireland. Then she gives him the newspaper and asks him to look at page 4. Edward responds: "It's lies. Damn filthy lies." He tries to kiss Lillie's neck, but Lillie won't let him. She gets very annoyed at him and tells him not to drink anymore before they go to the ball.
At the ball, Prince Louie of Battenburg (the nephew of Bertie) flirts with Lillie. Lillie is still worried about the article in the newspaper, but Bertie tells her not to worry. He will get them to print a retraction. Bertie introduces Lillie to Prime Minister William Gladstone and his wife. Bertie wants Gladstone to counsel Lillie to better behavior.
Bertie sends Mr. Lewis to speak with Rosenberg of Town Talk to put pressure on him.
Gladstone reads a poem to Lillie. They talk a little about "these wretched Finnians." Mrs. Cornwallis-West rushes in to see Lillie and Gladstone takes his leave. Patsy tells Lillie about the retraction published in the newspaper. But Rosenberg implies that Edward Langtry was given a post to get him out of the country, leaving Lillie alone at home for other activities. Lillie says: "Poor Mr. Rosenberg. I almost feel sorry for him."
The libel case goes to court. Mr. Rosenberg gets eighteen months in prison.
At night Gladstone goes out walking. He stops to talk to a prostitute named Jenny. Gladstone asks her to come with him to his home so he could talk more in depth with her. The woman goes home with him in return for some money. At home Jenny meets Mrs. Gladstone. She tells Jenny that they would like her to go to one of their homes of mercy.
Prince Louie walks with Lillie. He tells her: "I've fallen in love with you. . . . I love you." Louie says he will leave if he is bothering her. But Lillie tells him that she wants to see him again. They kiss. Back at home Lillie tells Patsy that she thinks she loves Louie. And anyway, Bertie is the one who seems to be throwing the two of them together.
Bertie, Lillie, Patsy and others are given a tour of Prince Louie's ship. Louie takes her town to the lower cabins. He takes her to his cabin and locks the door behind them. They plan to make love there. Meanwhile, the other men are wondering where Louis got off to. The captain of the ship tells them that he is playing a little trick on the couple. He turned off the air to the lower level. It will be so hot in there that if Louie is doing anything with Lillie, he won't be able to do it for very long. But Louie and Lillie do finish their rendezvous before the couple has to call it quits because of the heat and stuffiness in the cabin.
Lillie's mother and father visit with Lillie at her home. Alone together, Lillie's mother tells her that her father has been dismissed from his position because of "women". Lillie says they can't stay with her and her husband. Edward is bankrupt and they are terribly in debt. Gladstone arrives and mother scurries out of the room.
Lord Roseberry meets with Gladstone to warn him about his recent behavior. He is causing alarm with his talking to prostitutes at night on his walks and the talk could harm the party. Gladstone, however, will not stop his "good works". Another matter is his visits with Mrs. Langtry. Again Gladstone is not concerned. He just tells the Lord: "I'll see you out."
Lillie announces to her friends that she is going to get a job. Wilde tells her that she must become an actress in the theatre. Edward arrives and everyone starts filing out. When they are gone, Edward tells Lillie that he wants to talk to her. But Lillie tells him that she has nothing to say to him. She is going to her room. But first she says: "Our marriage is dead Edward. Sometimes I wonder if it was ever alive."
Prince Louie tells Lillie: "I want you to marry me." He says they will live abroad. She asks what about Edward. He replies that he will surely give her a divorce. But Lillie won't give him an answer just now.
Bertie speaks with nephew Prince Louie at Freake's place. Louie tells him that he asked Lillie to marry him. Bertie laughs out loud. He then says: "I forbid it!"
Lillie tells Patsy that she and Louie are going abroad. This will then force Edward to divorce her. Bertie arrives to see her. He tells Lillie simply: "It's out of the question." He understands that Lillie has not given Louie an answer to the question of marriage. Bertie says: "You must refuse him." He can't let Louie throw his life away by marrying Lillie. Lillie is quiet. Bertie tells her that she will get over it. She only smiles at him.
Louie applies for active duty and leaves the country. At the ball Lillie says she is thinking about taking a part in a new play at the Lyceum. Then she suddenly feels faint.
The doctor visits Lillie in her bed at home. He tells her: "You're going to have a baby."
Editor VIII. Going on the Stage.
Lillie is moving out of her house back to Jersey. She is still pregnant and wants to have the baby on Jersey. Her mother is with her and she is worried about Edward finding out. Lillie says that Edward won't find out. She says good-bye to Patsy. Lillie will be staying with Arthur Jones. And this way Bertie won't see it.
On Jersey Arthur and Lillie embrace. She tells him that she is going to have a baby and asks him for his help. He says he will help her. She is staying in a room owned by Arthur. Arthur tells her: "I love you, Lillie."
Bertie talks with his aide and tells him to make sure Prince Louie does not learn about Lillie's pregnancy. He arranges a loan of 2,000 English pound which will be routed through Sir Allen Young to Lillie. Bertie also tells his aide to arrange it so Lillie will give birth in Paris.
Lillie is happy to get the loan. But she thinks Bertie is behind it all because she knows that Allen is not wealthy.
In Paris Bertie visits with Lillie. He tells her that she looks radiant. The visit is a short one.
Arthur comes to Paris to see if he can be of any help. Edward came but went back to London. Lillie gives birth to a girl. Arthur only gets to see Lillie her after the birth.
Bertie asks his aide what are they to do about Prince Louie. The Crown Prince himself is going to Moscow for the Tsar's funeral.
Lillie desperately wants Edward to give her a divorce. Her father arrives and she asks him to help her. The Dean goes to see Edward, but his answer is: "No, no, never, never, never." He says he was deliberately send to the USA on a wild goose chase just to get him out of England. Then he criticizes Lillie's father for getting fired for fooling around with women. He keeps saying: "Don't preach to me!" Realizing that talking with Edward is useless, the Dean leaves.
Lillie goes back to London. On Jersey Arthur speaks to her mother. He is very mad about Lillie leaving so suddenly. Mom says that Lillie has to get a job. Arthur says: "I would have looked after her." Mother has the child with her. Arthur comments: "I thought she loved me. I was wrong."
At a ball Bertie dances with Lillie. She tells him that she has to find work. Bertie tells her that he will help her get work. Lillie slips away early complaining of being tired. But Lillie isn't tired. She goes to the theatre to speak with actress Ellen Terry. Ellen isn't really that helpful. She is, however, impressed when Lillie says she has the backing of the Crown Prince and Oscar Wilde. The actress suggests that Lillie take acting lessons from some of the working actresses. But Lillie needs money and she hopes to start acting as soon as possible.
Lillie has a visit from Oscar Wilde and Henrietta Labouchere. Henrietta is an actress and she wants Lillie to act in two plays in which Henrietta will also act. And Henrietta wants to start preparation tomorrow. Henrietta teaches Lillie all she needs to know as they prepare together.
Lillie performs to an audience that contains her mother and father, Oscar Wilde and Patsy. After the performance Wilde tells Lillie that it was a triumph. Henrietta tells Lillie that she wants her to play at the Haymarket. She assures Lillie that the Bancrofts will want her. She adds: "I'll see to that."
Henrietta speaks with Squire Bancroft and his wife. They both do not like the idea. So Henrietta uses her trump card. If Lillie is in the play, she will bring with her the Crown Prince and Princess. Squire Bancroft suddenly changes his mind and accepts Lillie.
Lillie finishes a performance and backstage she is congratulated by a multitude of friends and admirers. When they learn that the Crown Prince and Princess are coming back stage to congratulate her, everyone has to hide behind a huge drape. Bertie and Alexandra speak with Lillie briefly. Bertie says she was "absolutely splendid". After they leave her visitors come out of hiding.
Edward complains about Lillie being the mistress of Bertie. He says her behavior is unforgivable. Edward goes on: "I thought she cared. . . She wants to get rid of me." He says it's not right and that he will tell her so.
Lillie has been with the Bancrofts for only three months, but already she wants to start her own company. Suddenly Edward breaks in saying that Lillie ruined him. Her visitors leave. He says that his family stopped his allowance because of her. Lillie denies that because they have been married for more than seven years. Edward says that he knows she is still seeing the Prince of Wales. He then says: "I could tell." He could tell all about it, but he says he won't; but he could. Lillie finally says: "What do you want Edward?" He needs money. She gives him what she has with her. She then says: "I will arrange to send you more money, but I can't talk anymore." Before Edward leaves he asks: "Lillie. Why did you do it?"
Bertie talks with his aide about the possibility of telling Prince Louie about Lillie and the baby.
Exiting from the theatre after a performance, Lillie is swamped by a small army of enthusiastic male admirers. They get so carried away that they unhook the carriage horses and pull the coach themselves. Lillie loves it. She laughs and smiles widely.
Bertie's lawyer meets with Edward. He is there to have Edward sign a contract that he will receive from Lillie 35 pound per month on the condition that he never approach or speak to her unless she invites it and then the meeting will last only so long as Lillie desires. Edward keeps saying that all this is unnecessary. He is a pitiable sight. He tells the lawyer that he was rich once with a yacht. He cries.
Oscar Wilde complains to Lillie that she is not professional enough on stage. Whenever the university students shout for her, she goes out on stage regardless if the play calls for her character or not. Lillie tells Wilde that she is going to America. Wilde says he will be waiting for her because he has been invited to New York City. Photographers arrive to take pictures of Lillie holding a bar of Pear soap. They will pay her weight in pounds, 132 pounds, for advertisement. Wilde decides to stay and watch.
Bertie speaks with his aide about Lillie going to America. She will be gone when Prince Louie's ship docks at Portsmouth. That means that the two will miss each other, which is what Bertie wants. Bertie tells his man that he is to prepare a farewell party for Lillie. Oh, and make sure that Lady Brooke is there. At the ball Bertie's lawyer asks Henrietta how much Lillie will earn in America. She will receive $1,000 dollars a performance; one-half the box office receipts in excess of $4,000 dollars; and $200 dollars per week for hotel expenses. Lillie herself thanks Bertie for all his help in her acting career. Then Bertie turns to talk to Lady Brooke saying she is the most beautiful woman at the ball.
There is a big send-off for Lillie. Henrietta is going with her. While riding on the train to the ship Lillie reads the newspaper. Suddenly she stops talking to Henrietta in mid-sentence. Henrietta realizes Lillie is upset and asks her what's the matter. She says a friend of hers serving in the Mediterranean will dock in Portsmouth in two days time. She says: "And I shan't see him." She starts to cry. Henrietta tells her to stop crying because photographers will be at the ship to take photos. She then asks Lillie if the man was important to her. Lillie replies: "Yes, he was important to me. I loved him."
Episode IX. America!
In New York Oscar Wilde is interviewed by reporters who only want to know about Lillie Langtry. Lillie comes into the room and the reporters rush to her. Her agent Henry Abbey greets her and then brings Oscar forward. Lillie is happy to see Oscar. She will be staying at the Albemarle Hotel in Madison Square. From her hotel room she can see a huge sign advertising Lillie Langtry and the play she is in.
Lillie goes out to dinner with the wealthy man Pierre Lorillard and others. At dinner she says she wants to see everything, including Central Park and Fifth Avenue. Moreton Ferwyn is here with his wife Clara and an acquaintance Frederick Gebhard. Gebhard seems paralyzed by his admiration for Lillie's beauty. Clara says they came to New York because her husband wanted to see Lillie in her new play. The people at the table think Gebhard strange as he just stands there. After he leaves Lillie learns that he is from Baltimore and is the heir to his father's dry goods fortune.
Back in her hotel room Lillie receives a message from Freddy. He is down stairs and will not leave he says until she agrees to go out with him for a drive. Henrietta is appalled when Lillie skips rehearsing with her to go out with Freddy. But Freddy is thrilled. He says he couldn't sleep thinking about her. She is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. And more, he tells her: "I'm in love with you."
Lillie finally finds time to rehearse with Henrietta who complains that she is always out. The news in the paper is that "Miss Langtry Panics Wall Street". Lillie is just tickled to death over all the attention she is receiving in New York. The rehearsing is interrupted by Henry Abbey who tells Lillie that the theatre is on fire. They may have to open at another theatre. But, and this is what Lillie really cares about, the huge sign with her name still stands.
At dinner following the performance Abbey tells Lillie that it went very well. She is box office dynamite. "Everyone wants to see you," says Abbey. Oscar Wilde arrives to read his favorable revoew of Lillie and the play. But in one of the papers a critic says that the audience paid $10 dollars a seat only to see a tedious and boring play. Henrietta says that they must rehearse everyday. Wilde tells her that she is too much of a school mistress; that she is going to drive Lillie away. Henrietta says that one critic called Lillie stiff and unnatural and she won't stand for this because it reflects on her, her teacher.
Lillie receives a huge diamond necklace from Freddy.
Lillie is out on her first theatrical tour. She is going to Chicago, Philadelphia and St. Louis. Freddy is with her. Diamond Jim Brady made a special coach available to her. The disgusted Henrietta calls in the reporters to tell them: "I entirely disapprove of her professional and personal behavior in this country." She is with a man who is eight years her junior. Agnes Langtry, Lillie's sister-in-law, will be joining her on the trip. Henrietta then has the gall to give Lillie's love letters sent to her by Freddy to the reporters. The reporters are ravenous to read the letters.
Lillie is on the train with Agnes heading to St. Louis. She tells Agnes that when she went skating the people mobbed her. Agnes tells her that Edward sends her his regards. Referring to the scandal with Freddy, Lillie begs Agnes to tell the press that she does not believe a word of it. Freddy comes in and then goes out unable to speak about the reports on the scandal. He is very upset. Lillie has Freddy write a letter in reply to one of the newspapers. They will post it from St. Louis.
Lillie and Freddy are having breakfast in the hotel room. A newspaper editor of the St. Louis Globe Democrat, Colonel Cunningham, pushes his way past Dominique to ask brazenly of Lillie: "What is your relationship with this man?" Lillie tells him to make an appointment for an interview, but she will not answer personal questions. The editor shouts: "I don't like what's going on here. We don't like immorality here in St. Louis." He promises to start a boycott of her play and then leaves. Freddy is worried by the threat, but Lillie only says: ". . . scandal is good for business."
The newspaper carries the headline: "Mrs. Langtry an Affront to Public Morality." The article refers to Lillie and Freddy as "partners in sin" and urges all St. Louis citizens to boycott Lillie's play. When Freddy sees Cunningham at his hotel, he screams into the man's face: "You're a liar!" Freddy demands a full page retraction of the story. Cunningham responds by saying that Lillie is Freddy's mistress and adds: "Damn you and your harlot!" The two men start fighting. A policeman arrives and throws Cunningham out of the hotel. Before leaving Cunningham challenges Freddy to a duel.
Freddy tells Lillie that he must fight Cunningham, but Lillie tells him he denounced the editor publicly and that's enough. Since that is not satisfactory to Freddy, Lillie tells him that if he goes through with the duel she will never see him again. Freddy stops talking about dueling. Lillie tells her agent that Freddy will be leaving the party in Memphis. The tour goes on to New Orleans, Milwaukee, Cincinnati and Buffalo.
Back in New York City, Lillie says that it's good to be back. Lillie is said to be the biggest box office attraction in the United States. Freddy comes into the hotel room. He sweeps her up in his arms and takes her to bed. Agnes returns to the hotel room and finds them making love. She is morally shocked and outraged and leaves. Freddy is worried, but Lillie only tells him: "It doesn't matter."
Agnes tells Lillie that she is going back to England. She wants to know when they became lovers and Lillie answers since Buffalo. Agnes claims that she was deceived;, that she was used as a cover for Lillie's shabby relationship. She summarizes: "Shameless, Lillie, shameless!"
Back in England Lillie receives a visit from Bertie. He tells her that it's been two years since she went to America. On the way back to England she stayed in Paris for three months to study with a famous acting coach. She even did a scene with Sarah Bernhardt. Bertie tells her that Prince Louie married a woman named Victoria and wonders if it still hurts her. She says not really. Now she has her daughter Jeanne Marie who is nearly four years old. Bertie says he would like to see her from time to time (for a sexual relationship). They kiss.
Two men of royalty argue over who will be the one to take Lillie to dinner. But Lillie informs them that she cannot go out with either man because her mother and father are here. The men are both downcast, but continue their heated argument anyway.
At dinner Oscar Wilde introduces his wife Constance to Lillie. Lillie decides to have a family council with her parents about Jeanne Marie.
Lillie goes out horseback riding with one of the royals who argued so intensely over her. From the side of the track the other royal jumps out and tells the fellow on horseback to stop bothering Lillie and stay away from her. This time they begin a physical fight and end up rolling around in the mud of the horse track. Later Lillie says that she hopes Freddy won't read an incident of the report. She has written him to come to England. Lillie learns that artist Frank Miles is in the asylum having lost his senses.
Lillie's daughter arrives, but the little girl believes that Lillie is her aunt Emily, not her mother. Lillie fawns over the child.
Freddy writes back that he is not coming to England. He is too busy in New York. Lillie receives a surprise visit from Henrietta who wants to get under Lillie's skin, but Lillie stays remarkably calm.
Freddy suddenly shows up and Lillie is ecstatic. Later her mother says that Freddy shouldn't be staying her with Lillie. But Lillie says she doesn't care what people think. Abbey wants her to come back to America to do another theatrical tour.
Lilly despairs of ever being able to divorce Edward. But Freddy has an idea. He talked with a lawyer and the man told Freddy that if Lillie could become an American citizen, he could get her a divorce within months. Freddy says enthusiastically: "Say you'll do it, Lillie!" Lillie only says: "Kiss me Freddy. I want you to kiss me." They embrace and kiss.
Episode X. Home on the Range.
Oscar Wilde and Patsy are gambling at a roulette wheel. Lillie is also there. Wilde says that Lillie has found the streets of New York paved with gold. Meanwhile, Bertie has developed a mania for gambling. He is still with Daisy Brooke, but Patsy says Lillie is his next-best friend. Lillie is going on another tour of America. Dominique rushes into the room to tell Lillie that the police are here because of the illegal gambling. Bertie and Lillie hide behind the drapes. At this moment the police come into the room and order everybody to "stand quite still". The police see movement in the drapes and order them out. The police say they are going to arrest Lillie. They consider also arresting Bertie, when the secret is revealed. The whole thing is just a joke. Bertie laughs. He tells Lillie that he is going to miss her when she goes to America.
Lillie speaks with her father. He tells her that he knows all about Jeanne Marie, her "little love child". Edward still refuses to give her a divorce.
Lillie arrives in New York City to be met by the local reporters and, of course, Freddy. Also there to greet Lillie is Diamond Jim Brady. Jim introduces Lillie to the latest theatrical sensation, Lillian Russell. Lillian is Broadway's reigning star. The reporters ask Lillie if she is going to have a feud with Lillian Russell. Lillie says that a feud would be good for business. At dinner Freddy tells Lillian about the famous lawyer that will help her get a divorce. Lillian wants to do it later, but the lawyer pushes his way forward. His name is Abe Hummel. And it was he that was the prosecutor who questioned her on the stand in the Rosenberg case. Lillian is distant towards him, but he talks away about the divorce. Lillie sets up a meeting with Abe for very early the next morning. The following morning Abe rides with Lillie in her carriage. He is accompanying her on her daily routine. Abe tells Lillie that he wants eight percent of the money she gets, but Lillie starts her jogging which wears Abe so completely down that he agrees to take only three percent.
The actor with Lillian, Charles Coughlin, congratulates Lillian on her recent performance. Lillie learns that Bertie's lawyer approached Edward. In the United States desertion is ground for a divorce. But first Lillie needs to be an American citizen. Then she must establish residency in the country. The discussionis broken up by the arrival of Judge Roy Bean from Vingaroon, Texas. He came all the way from Texas just to see Lillie. He first learned of her when a horse rustler in his court had a picture of the Jersey Lily. That's all it took. The Judge has been ever after obsessed with Lillie's beauty. Unfortunately for the Judge, Lillie is not receiving visitors. But she does sent out a signed picture of herself to him. Roy Bean seems very happy with this and shouts: "Hallelujah!" Later Lillie learns more about the Judge. He has a saloon that he named The Jersey Lily. And it is said that Roy Bean is the only law west of the Pecos River. The saloon he has is said to be a virtual shrine to Lillie.
Freddy wants Lillie and he to buy the Winick Ranch in California. The 4,200 acre ranch goes for $80,000 dollars. She certainly can afford this because on the property she has in Carson City they recently discovered silver. Freddy and Lillie go out to California to see the ranch. They ride their horses around the property and then sleep outside under the stars. Freddy wants to raise horses on the ranch. Lillie asks: "When do we start?" Freddy says as soon as she is an American citizen.
Freddy, Diamond Jim, Lillie, Lillian Russell and others play poker. Lillian is the big winner of the game. Brady says that Lillian Russell is America's number one musical star and Lillie Langtry is America's first star of the theatre. Now Lillie and Lillian give the appearance of being great friends.
Lillie says that the California ranch is eating up a lot of money. Freddy wants to concentrate on getting a divorce for her. He tells her that she can get a divorce any time she wants. But Lillie puts him off saying that she wants her entire family together, including Jeanne Marie, before she decides on the divorce matter. At this time Lillie receives the news that her father has died. She cries.
Lillie tells Freddy that she is terrified of what Edward might do. She says: "I have to protect Jeanne Marie." She adds that she is going back to London to get Edward to give her a divorce. Freddy tells her that if after this she doesn't marry him, they are through.
Lillie is back in England. Edward's answer is still the same: "Over my dead body." The ranch situation is out of hand. They lost the blood line stock of horses, all killed in a train wreck. Lillie says that Freddy is now down to his last million.
Patsy arrives to speak with Lillie. She has invited George Arthur to tea with them. The very shy George arrives. Patsy tells him that her husband says she has to break off her relationship with George, but she just can't have that. Then both women gang up on George and vamp him. They even tickle him. Patsy kisses him and then Lillie kisses him.
Dominique tells Lillie that she is not well. Lillie faints. The doctor finds out that she has measles and may be developing influenza. This in turn may lead to pneumonia. Bertie visits a stronger Lillie. She tells him that because of the illness she had to close the theatre for six weeks. Freddy rushes in when Bertie is still with Lillie. Bertie politely leaves. Lillie tells Freddy to catch up with Bertie and apologize to him. She comments that Freddy embarrassed her and made a fool of himself. Freddy gets very angry and accuses Lillie of just having used him for his money. Lillie tells him that he is stupid.
Lillie plays Cleopatra. She receives a big round of applause. Bertie talks with her and says she was wonderful in the play. He then leaves. Oscar Wilde comes in. He has changed his hair color to a reddish blonde. And he has a young man with him. He tells Lillie that he will call on her the next morning. The next morning Oscar arrives early at Lillie's place. He tells her that he has written a play for her about a character named Lady Windermere and wants her to star as the main character. The plot deals with a mysterious and beautiful actress who has an illegitimate child and is not accepted by society. Lillie thinks this is much too close to her own story and she gives Oscar a flat "No". Oscar offers to leave the script with her, but she says that she won't cheapen herself by touching the script. Lillie follows this with a cold, harsh: "And I don't want to see you anymore." A crestfallen Oscar leaves.
At the horse races with Patsy and George, Lillie sees a man that insists on staring at her. His name is George Baird, but is called Squire Abington. Lillie plays hard to get, so the fellow gives her his bets. Since he is an amateur jockey he says he knows that the bets will earn her a substantial amount of money. In return, when she wins he only wants her to take him out to dinner. Patsy warns Lillie about him. The man is a gambler, she says.
Lillie's horses win and she takes Squire out to dinner. When they go back to her place he simply walks into her bedroom and forces himself on her. But Lillie doesn't resist but a moment. He gives her a beautiful, large necklace and they kiss.
Episode XI. Mr. Jersey.
Squire Abington wins his race. He gets off his horse, walks directly to Lillie and kisses her. The onlookers are scandalized. Patsy approachws Lillie and warns her again. Squire is a man who refuses to behave with common decency. And the man beat an actress he was dating. Lillie comes to the man's defense saying that he is alive and free unlike so many other men.
Squire comes into Lillie's place. He brings with him Charlie Mitchell, the British Heavyweight Boxing Champion and another boxer who is the bantam weight class champion. He wants Lillie to go out with them and when Lillie says she has another engagement, he demands that she break it. To manipulate her he gives her a very expensive bracelet. That makes her suddenly in an amorous mood. She goes out with the men. At the end of the evening, the three men go to Lillie's place ahead of her. When Lilly arrives home she sees the men already having a grand old time with a woman dancing for them. Lillie tells the men that her place is not a saloon. Lillie's toughness is trumped by Squire's anger. He tells her to get them some more champagne before he gets angry. Lillie tries to go to her room, but he chases after her, slaps her on the steps and calls her a bitch. He forcefully takes back the jewelry he gave her and throws it to the party revelers down below. In the bedroom he slaps her again.
Patsy visits Lillie the next morning only to find that she has not yet risen. She then learns that Squire Abington is still with her. Patsy leaves. Squire tells Lillie: "I don't like to be crossed." He gives her a beautiful ring and tells her: "I want to marry you. Will you marry me?" When she mentions Edward he tells her to divorce him. He then tells Lillie that he will send Charlie the boxing champion to have a little talk with Edward. And that thing with the Prince of Wales -- that's finished.
Lillie's brother Clem sees Edward. The man is a mess and is drunk and still won't change his mind. When Clem meets with Lillie he tells her that there's no hope for a divorce. He remarks that the marriage to Edward is not all bad. Her being tied to him may have prevented her from rushing into other follies. Lillie has started smoking.
Wilde's play about Lady Winderme is a fabulous success. Oscar just glows with excitement and glee. Oscar and his pals talk about how Lillie has given up her theatrical career. A little later in comes Squire Abington and his two thugs. Squire is very angry because he could not get his man a match with the world heavyweight champion John L. Sullivan. Bertie is also here dressed in black. He goes to Lillie's place to speak with her. He tells Lillie that he lost one of his sons. The distraught Alexandra will not leave her room. He cries on Lillie's shoulder.
Dominique tells Lillie that Squire Abington has arrived. He has heard the prince has been there. He proceeds to beat her.
Bertie's lawyer looks at the badly bruised Lillie and tell her that she must break with Squire. Because of Squire, half of her servants have walked out and she has lost most of her friends. Lillie foolishly says: "The more jealous and violent a man is, the sorrier he is afterwards." He has presented her with a house, jewelry and a race horse. She has decided to sell the ranch in California and have Abe Hummel buy property in Chicago and Los Angeles. Squire Abington is now in Scotland for six weeks. Lillie is going to Jersey to see Jeanne Marie and then she will go to Paris for some clothes.
Lillie attends Oscar Wilde's play. At a party afterwards, she makes an entrance. After Patsy gets over the shock, she goes over to welcome Lillie. She asks Lillie: "And where have you been hiding?" They both laugh. Oscar comes over to talk with her and asks her if she liked the play. She answers "No. (a pause) I adored it." Oscar says he missed her and Lillie replies: "And I you."
Lillie is in Paris. One of Oscar's friends, Bobby, pays her a visit. She tells him that Sarah Bernhardt keeps inviting her to parties. Lillie starts flirting with Bobby when Squire suddenly comes in. Lillie tries to explain that Bobby is just an old friend, but Squire beats and kicks Bobby. He then turns his wrath on Lillie.
Lillie's head and hands are completely bandaged. Bertie's aide talks with her at Bertie's request. He tells Lillie that Squire has been arrested and is being held without bail. The scandal had made headlines all over the world. However, a trial would lead to more and bigger scandals. Bertie wants the whole matter silenced. And he has offered to make up for her financial loss by not being able to win a settlement from Squire Abington. Lillie tells the aide that she will not press charges.
Squire is desperate to get back with Lillie. He sends her jewelry and says that if she will see him, he will give her a yacht and 50,000 pounds to pay the ship's crew. Furthermore, he will put in his will the stipulation that upon his death Lillie will receive from one to two million pounds. Lillie remarks: "I may forgive him. . . . I always wanted a yacht."
Gentleman Jim Corbett beats John L. Sullivan for the Boxing Heavyweight Championship of the World. Squire is in the USA until he gets a match for Charlie Mitchell with Gentleman Jim.
Lillie is told that Squire is dead. He had a three day drinking bout and died.
Clem tells Lillie the bad news that Squire forgot to sign the new will. Lillie has just lost a fortune and Clem blames himself. He should have checked before Squire left for America. Clem tells his sister that she will have to economize. But Lillie says she will act again and she will race horses. Since women cannot be owners of race horses actually racing, she will call herself "Mr. Jersey".
Lillie is an astonishing success with her race horses. Oscar Wilde visits her. His "The Importance of Being Ernest" is a big success. But a recent scandal spells serious trouble for Oscar. Lillie tells him that he cannot go ahead with his case against the Marquis of Queensbury, father of Bosse, the young man with whom Oscar has been having an affair. Oscar is trying to get satisfaction because of a card sent to him by the Marquis calling him a sodomite. Lillie tells him that it will actually be Oscar himself on trial. Oscar says it's the only way he can protect Bosse from his father.
News arrives that Oscar was arrested last night and he has had to drop his case.
A very upset Jeanne Marie comes to Lillie. She has heard from a friend that Lillie is really her mother. When someone asks Lillie how did it go, she says that Jeanne Marie actually took it quite well. She thinks Edward is her father. Clem tells Lillie: "Now you'll have to get that divorce." Otherwise Edward could take Lillie's daughter away from her. He advises Lillie to go back to the United States on a theatrical tour. In San Francisco they will go to court and get the divorce.
Oscar Wilde comes to visit Lillie. He says: "There are not many doors still open to me." Lillie tells him that he must get away and that the authorities actually want him to leave. Oscar says he is bankrupt. Lillie gives him some money. Bosse is in France already.
In court Oscar gives quite the speech about love between an older and a younger man that is very romanticized. The court room audience applauds him.
The headline in the paper is: "Wilde Convicted. Sent to Prison."
Edward comes to visit Lillie. He says that she owes him an explanation. Lillie answers: "I owe you nothing." She also tells Edward that she has no plans to remarry. Edward demands to see his daughter. Jeanne Marie is elsewhere at the moment. Edward makes threats but Lillie says he is no longer her husband. She's an American citizen now. But Edward says England will not accept the American divorce. He then says that he wants more money. He needs more. He adds: "You'll never be free of me, never."
Edward gets stinking drunk and lands in prison. He keeps demanding that the prison authorities speak with his wife, Lillie Langtry.
At dinner Lillie talks horse racing. Since her horse stands little chance of winning his next race, she will have him race without shoes. Clem gets a call from a county mental asylum about Edward. Lillie's brother goes to see his brother-in-law. The poor man is now kept in a straight jacket and seems completely crazy.
Lillie's horse wins. Bertie comes to see her. He congratulates her and says he will make sure she is allowed into the Jockey Club despite the ban against women. He says: "Just let them try and stop you." At the club a reporter brings the news that Edward Langtry has just died in the Chester asylum.
Episode XII. Sunset and Evening Star.
Lillie comes into her house and berates Clem for not being discreet about Edward's funeral. Lillie complains that everyone is saying that she is a heartless adventuress with the most macabre sense of humor since Messilina. Clem maintains that it was a just number of ironic coincidences. People wanted to know why Edward was penniless, so he had to put out a statement to deal with all the speculation. Lillie says she won't be hypocritical and pretend to be sorry. So, she doesn't want any more statements released.
Lillie's mother comes in. She tells Lillie that Jeanne Marie has taken all this very badly. Lillie is still sending money to Oscar Wilde. Prince Paul Esterhazy comes in to see Lillie. She says that her birthday is coming up and she will invite him to the party.
Bertie visits Lillie. He sees Jeanne Marie and tells her that she looks a lot like Lillie. Patsy sends Hugo De Bathe to see Lillie. Hugo and Jeanne Marie go out to a party. After they are gone, Lillie tells Bertie that Prince Louie has only seen Jeanne Marie briefly once or twice. Bertie says that he will see her daughter is seated at court. Lillie is very grateful.
Princess Alexandra greets Lillie and Jeanne Marie. Later Jeanne Marie meets Bertie's son George and his nephew Prince Louie. Louie says a few words to Lillie and then leaves.
Back home Jeanne Marie raves about meeting Bertie and Alexandra. And she also met Princess May also. Playwright Sidney Grundy tells Lillie that he is going to write a play for her. Tonight Lillie is going to the opera with Prince Esterhazy.
Lillie learns that her box of jewels is gone. Some tall fellow with a ruddy face had an authorization with Lillie's signature, so the bank just handed the box over to the man. And half of Lillie's assets were tied up in the jewelry for a total of 100,000 pounds. And the bank says it will only pay Lillie 10,000 pounds for the loss because she had no inventory of her jewelry. But Lillie does not despair for long. She says she will sell her yacht. She will put it up for auction. (Even though this is not the way to sale yachts in England.) She also says she will do Sidney Grundy's play "The Degenerates".
Lillie has dinner with Prince Esterhazy. He tells her that now she is free, he wants to speak with her soon about an important matter. He also tells her that he will replace some of her jewelry. Lillie is so happy she puts her gloved hand against his hair (and discovers from the blackened glove that he "paints" his hair). And the next morning she sees the black spots on the pillow where Esterhazy slept. She has breakfast in bed, but she tells Jeanne Marie that she will not marry Esterhazy.
Hugo De Bathe arrives on Jersey, not to see Jeanne Marie, but to see Lillie.
Hugo attends a rehearsal at the theatre. Sidney Grundy misspeaks and refers to Lillie as Mrs. De Bathe. So Lillie decides to announce to one and all that she and Hugo are to be married.
Lillie gets one-quarter of a million pounds for her yacht. Hugo tells Lillie that his father has disinherited him. Hugo is twenty years young than Lillie. One friend tells her that at least she will get a title from the marriage. Many people refer to Hugo as a fool. The Boer War is beginning in South Africa between the British and the earlier Dutch settlers. Lillie has heard that Oscar Wilde is in a bad way in Paris. The public has not forgiven him yet and now he is dying. Lillie introduces Hugo to her very young gentlemen named Louie.
Hugo speaks with Clem. He says that all the women copy Lillie's fashion styles. Clem asks Hugo how's Georgie, his girlfriend. Hugo says she is fine. Clem says that since Lillie certainly won't give up her friends, she doesn't expect Hugo to give up his. Hugo leaves. Lillie comes in. Hugo has volunteered to fight in South Africa. With Lillie Hugo feels like a lapdog. The man feels ashamed not to be with his old unit which will be heading to the Cape. Because Hugo volunteered, his father has forgiven him and he will now receive Lillie. Lillis delivers a sarcastic quip.
Lillie returns to New York. She goes on to Chicago. She speaks to the audience there of the death of a dear friend (Oscar Wilde). And she has just learned that her husband is dangerously ill in a military hospital in South Africa. The audience gives her a 10-20 minute ovation. Back in England, some of Lillie's friends talk about Hugo. The guy never did get a chance to fight. And since he has been back, Lillie has only seen him once or twice.
At dinner at a restaurant Ian Malcolm says hello to Lillie. He is now a member of Parliament. Hugo comes in with Georgie. Lillie really doesn't seem to mind that he is with another mother (and thast the woman is much younger than Lillie).
Lillie tells her theatre people that she is going to build a huge theatre in Westminster. The men wonder if this is wise.
Lillie returns from Paris. There she met a Marquis who has followed her to London. He has rented an apartment across the street from her apartment and says he will shoot any man calling on her. Hugo is now in the south of France. Jeanne Marie is seeing a lot of Ian Malcolm. Both are alike -- they are both very straight-laced. Bertie and a man named Francis come through a window to see Lillie. Lillie gets a good laugh out of it. Bertie asks why Lillie refused to marry Esterhazy. Was it the painted hair? No, says Lillie. The man wore corsets. Lillie says that the name of her new theatre will be The Imperial.
Ian Malcolm and Jeanne Marie are getting married. Ian asks Lillie about marrying her daughter. Lillie says it's more important what Jeanne Marie says. And the daughter says that she loves Ian very, very much.
Lillie uses her magic to get the workers to finish her theatre on time. She has to tell Hugo that the Malcolms won't invite him to the marriage. Hugo gets angry and decides that he will go back to Monte Carlo. Jeanne Marie comes home early from a party. She says that Mrs. Asquith asked her what her father was getting her for the marriage. Jean Marie told the woman that her father is dead, but the woman countered by revealing the "secret" that her real father is Prince Louis of Battenburg. Now Jeanne Marie wants to know from Lillie if it is true. And if it is true, Jeanne Marie says she can't marry Ian. She asks Lillie: "Is this why you pretended not to be my mother?" Lillie swears to her daughter that it is not true and Jeanne Marie says she is sorry. Lillie says the more successful she became in her life, the more the rumors got nastier. But on the positive side, she is going to give the couple an allowance of 5,000 pounds a year. Jeanne Marie says: "Mother you are so good. You're so kind."
Jeanne Marie speaks with her husband about the matter and her husband contradicts what her mother told her. He says that Edward was certainly not her biological father. Jeanne Marie marches to Lillie's place to confront her. She says that she abandoned her husband for another man and then this other man refused to marry her. Lillie is stunned by the hostility in her daughter's voice. When she tries to approach Jeanne Marie, her daughter shouts: "Don't come near me! Don't touch me!" She goes on: "I don't believe you. You have never done anything that wasn't completely calculated, heartless and completely selfish." Lillie is in total shock and says: "Oh, my daughter." Jeanne Marie finishes with: "If only I could believe that was a lie too!"
Clem comments on the fact that Jeanne Marie did not come to her grandmother's funeral. Her husband has restricted Lillie to just two visits of just one-half hour each a year with her daughter.
As if that wasn't bad enough, the Wesleyan Church (opposed to theatre) purchased the property of Lillie's landlord. So she is now their tenant. At the end of her lease, they will destroy her new theatre. Lillie protests that she has spend hundreds of thousands of pound on the theatre. But Lillie soon springs up again. She says they will do the theatrical tour up north as arranged and then go straight to America. Clem thinks it's an unwise idea, but Lillie does exactly what she wants to do.
Lillie pays a visit to Bertie (now King Edward VII) and Alexandra to say good-bye before she goes to America. The name of the play is "The Crossways". No, they won't see it in London, since she no longer has a theatre. But the idea of just one performance in London is broached. Yes, a special command performance for one of Alexandra's charities.
Lillie gets a huge applause for her one performance in London.
Episode XIII. Fifty Cents a Dance.
Berite has died. Lillie (now Lady De Bathe) briefly visits with Queen Alexandra. The Queen tells Lillie that she is giving her the King's fox terrier Caesar because the king wanted Lillie to have the dog.
Clem and Hugo talk about the funeral. Lillie has not taken it too well. She and Louie have gone out for a walk. Louie is in the militia. Lillie and Louie arrive back home. A few minutes later Lillie learns that the dog has arrived. Lillie is a bit anxious. She talks as if she is the dog saying: "I am Caesar. I belong to the King."
In London Lillie eats lunch with Sidney Grundy. She says she went down to New Market for awhile for a rest. But now she wants Sidney to write something for her dog Caesar. She says the Americans will love seeing the King's dog. It would make great publicity. Lillie says that she has grandchildren now. She adds softly: "I wish I could see them. Just once."
Jeanne Marie is going up to Scotland. Lillie will soon be off to America.
The dog has died. Lillie has to tell Sidney to stop writing the play for the animal. The talk of the day is that war will come before the end of the year. She says she has an offer of doing a film in America. But first she pays a visit to the Vicar of Kentford. The Vicar introduces Lillie to the crowd gathered on the church lawn. Lillie speaks to them.
Clem visits with Jeanne Marie. He notes that they have their black-out curtains in their proper places. Clem tells his niece that he received a letter from her mother in America. She made a film. He then says that her mother wants to see her. Jeanne Marie says "No!" Then she says she would rather not talk about it. She can't abide her mother, she says. She likes her father a lot better even if she hardly knows him. Prince Louie of Battenburg, the First Sea Lord, has been accused of being a German spy. People are saying no wonder they are losing so many ships to the Germans.
King George V (Bertie's son) speaks with Prince Louie. He says he fought it all the way. Mr. Churchill even wanted him to stay. The Prince has tears in his eyes. The King says: "This is a wretched business." He knows Louie has suffered a very great wrong. But he is going to make Louis a Privy Councilor. At least that way, says the King, they will know the King has confidence in him.
Lillie says she is not doing another play. Her son-in-law (with the Red Cross) and Louie are going to France. Clem asks Hugo to be discreet about his affairs with young women.
Prince Louie requests that Jeanne Marie meet with him. When she arrives he tells her that he has resigned and will be leaving London. He adds: "I thought for a long time we ought to meet." He tells her that he loved her mother and he knows she wanted to marry him. The real problem was that Bertie opposed the union. He wonders: "Maybe I should have put up more of a fight." He says that it distresses him to know that she is not speaking with her mother. He is going away soon and will probably never see Jeanne Marie again. He continues, but Jeanne Marie breaks down crying and asks him to please stop.
Looking much older Lillie is on a ship headed for New York. She tells a gentleman that she has a house in New York on West 23rd Street, a gift of Freddy Gebhard. Going on she says: "I love New York." She agrees that the city can be noisy and a bit vulgar, but she likes it. She especially likes to go to a certain dance hall where she can pay 50 cents to dance one dance with a boy. In New York she dances with an Italian fellow. She tells him he is very handsome. She even gets in a physical dispute with another woman over the man. Lillie pushes the woman down and the woman pushes Lillie out the door.
Back in England Lillie is very happy to find Louie back home from France and completely all right. She comments: "Oh, this dreadful war." She then asks Louie to tell her how much he has missed her. Lillie with Ellen Terry and Cicely Courtneidge give a benefit performance to support the troops. Bombs start dropping near the theatre and the audience starts to panic. Lillie saves the day by going on stage and telling the people that there is no cause for alarm. The performance goes on.
Lillie again has to say that she doesn't want to do another play. She is retired. She is seriously thinking of selling Regal House and living in Monte Carlo. Lillie is interrupted by a lot of shouting. She quickly learns what the fuss is about. The war is over! She immediately wants to go to London to join in on the celebration. Lillie says isn't it wonderful! "I am so happy."
Hugo and Lillie play cards with another couple. Hugo leaves. Lillie says that she is feeling lonely. So many of her friends have died; the latest being Queen Alexandra. Later Hugo returns to say that he is in a "spot of trouble". He reports that an English woman he has been seeing says that he promised to marry her. Lillie says she will handle it. He says sorry and promises that it won't happen again. When he leaves, Lillie says to herself: "Dead. All dead!"
At the gambling tables in Monte Carlo Hugo introduces Daisy Harrison to Lillie and Louie. Lillie shakes her hand, but Louie refuses even to acknowledge Daisy. They part, but Hugo comes back to tell Louie that he doesn't like his attitude. He says Louie's behavior was insulting to Miss Harrison. He then tells Louie that he has never liked him. Hugo adds: "Rather a common little creep at that." Lillie and Louie start to leave. Hugo chases after him. Louie replies by slapping Hugo across the face. After the feud is finished, Hugo apologizes to his fellow gamblers.
Lillie is back in London paying a visit to King George V and his wife. The King tells Lillie that she made his father very happy. In fact, he thinks that Lillie was the one who brought his father the most happiness. And Lillie has been discreet. They are in her debt. The King then changes the subject to say that he is sorry to her of Clem's death. Now all six of her brothers are dead.
Jeanne Marie prepares for a visit by her mother. Her son Victor masterminded the get-together. He stayed with Lillie for awhile. Jeanne Marie is very anxious. The bell rings. Victor goes out and brings grandmother inside. Jeanne Marie goes over to her mother and gives her a kiss. Lillie is very pleased. She says: "I did enjoy having Victor to stay." And she had so wanted to congratulate Ian on his knighthood. Jeanne Marie asks her mother about her garden and then about Hugo. Lillie says that Hugo is very well. She tells her daughter: "I have missed you so much, my darling." Victor brings in his sister Mary to meet their grandmother. Mary says that she heard that grandmother is very rich and famous. And she asks grandmother if she can come and see her like Victor did. Jeanne Marie just stares at her daughter's enthusiastic reception of her grandmother. Her daughter is just so happy to speak with her grandmother.
Lillie is back in Monte Carlo. The doctor tells her that she must keep warm. It is snowing in Monte Carlo. Hugo stops for a visit. He says he knows he promised, but he is having another problem with a woman and breach of promise. She tells Hugo she will handle it and out he goes. She calls her female assistant back and asks her: "When is Freddy coming back?" (Freddy, of course, is dead.) She then adds that she is dying. She tells Mathilde that she wants her to have the house and enough money so she won't have to work. She then speaks of her granddaughter. Mathilde tells her that her granddaughter really loves her and Lillie replies: "I hope it's true." She then goes on to wonder what if she hadn't married Edward. He was a good man, but so weak.
Lillie says she is going and that she wants to be buried in Jersey with her parents. A little later she says: "Goodbye my dear. Goodbye." She dies.
Both my wife and I liked the series. We both agreed we couldn't personally stand to live her life-style. We tend to find parties boring and superficial. But Lillie loved, loved it. She loved being famous and having people know her name. Lillie was also very materialistic. She would even put up with beatings as long as she thought she could get more material gifts from the bad boys. She certainly had a great many affairs and seemed very weak before men and the gifts they bring. We could be unkind and call her a "slut", but that would be a bit harsh. It's more like she had an addiction to men and money. Granted that this is true, nevertheless, she was very strong and independent in many ways. She was a good business woman (except she could get careless as with her box of jewels worth 100,000 pounds). She also developed into a pretty good actress. She had a lot of friends and a lot of influence. Many women copied her fashion styles.
She always said that she didn't care what people said, but in her life she seemed always to have to bow to social pressures. And in the end it's her daughter who paid the heaviest price for Lillie's rather unorthodox life choices. The poor girl did not know her real father or mother, since Lillie couldn't tell her the truth because of the social consequences. This really hurt the girl's sense of self-worth and self-confidence. And when she was older she felt her mother was just a huge, selfish liar who only did things for her own selfish reasons. And worse, she broke off contact with her mother for quite some years denying Lillie access to her grandchildren. So one wonders if Lillie was every really, truly happy with her numerous partners in unstable relationships and the harm that this did to her only child. Lillie wanted to do it her way and she certainly did, but one has to ask if it didn't cause a little too many problems for herself and others. But she probably prefered to be rich and famous than conventional and stable regardless of the cost. One thing for sure: she had a very interesting life.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
The renowned beauty Lillie Langtry was a highly successful British actress who had an affair with the Prince of Wales (future King Edward VII) and knew the writer Oscar Wilder. She had many other prominent lovers as well.
The Bailiwick of Jersey is off the coast of Normandy, France. It includes the island of Jersey and the nearly uninhabited islands of the Minquiers, Écréhous, the Pierres de Lecq. Together with the bailiwick of Guernsey it forms the Channel Islands. Jersey is like the Isle of Man, a separate possession of the Crown.
The future Rev. William Corbet le Breton (father of Lillie) elopes to Gretna Green with Lillie's beautiful mother.
1842 -- Rev. Corbet married his wife again at Chelsea.
1853 (October 13) -- Llillie Langtry born Emilie Charlotte Le Breton on the island of Jersey. She was the only daughter of the Dean of Jersey, Rev. William Corbet le Breton. He gained an unsavory reputation. There were six brothers in the family, five of whom were older than Lillie.
She had a French governess, but was too much for the woman to handle. Lillie was then educated by her brothers' tutor. She was unusually well educated for the time.
1874 -- twenty-year-old Lillie wants to get away from Jersey. She marries twenty-six-year-old Irish landowner Edward Langtry, the brother-in-law of her brother William's wife. The man had money and a yacht, as well. She made her husband take her to London where they rented a place in Belgravia, London.
Frank Miles made several sketches of Lillie and these were turned into very popular postcards. Later Sir John Everett Millais painted her portrait (A Jersey Lily). Her nickname was the "Jersey Lily", after the Jersey lily, Amaryllis belladonna, which is a symbol of Jersey.
She started getting invitations to London society parties. Then royalty noticed her, especially the Prince of Wales, Albert Edward ("Bertie"). The Crown Prince was married to Princess Alexandra with who he had six children. Bertie was well-known as a philanderer.
1877 (May 24) -- the Crown Prince sits next to Lillie at a dinner party given by Sir Allen Young. He becomes infatuated with her and soon she is his semi-official mistress. Lillie meets Queen Victoria, Edward's mother. (And she even develops a cordial relationship with Princess Alexandra.)
1877 (late) to 1880 (June) -- the term of the affair between Lillie and Bertie.
1877 -- Bertie constructs what became the Red House n Bournemouth, Dorset as a private retreat for Lillie and him. (Lillie even designed it.)
1879 (April) -- Lillie starts another affair with Prince Louis of Battenberg.
1879 (June) -- Lillie eclipsed by the actress Sarah Bernhardt.
1879 (July) -- Lillie begins an affair with the Earl of Shrewsbury.
1879 (August and September) -- Town Talk reports that Lillie's husband plans to divorce her and will cite, with others, the Prince of Wales.
1880 (January) -- Lillie and her partner planned to run away together.
1880 -- Lillie has an affair with her old friend Arthur Clarence Jones.
1880 (June) -- the affair between the Crown Prince and Lillie ends. Even in her later career as a theatre actress he spoke well of her.
1880 (June) -- Lillie becomes pregnant and Prince Louis is said to be the father.
Lillie's mother, Mrs. Willilam Corbet le Breton, leaves her husband.
1880 -- the Reverend is obliged to leave Jersey after his wife left him..
1880 (October) -- many of Lillie's possessions sold to satisfy her creditors.
The Crown Prince gives Lillie some money and she goes with Arthur Jones to Paris.
1881 (March 8) -- Lillie gives birth to daughter, Jeanne Marie. (There was strong evidence that Arthur Jones was the father.)
Her friend, the writer Oscar Wilde, suggests that Lillie become a stage actress.
1881 (December) -- Lillie makes her debut in London in She Stoops to Conquer.
1882 (autumn) -- Lillie makes her first tour of America, which was an enormous success.
1882 to 1891 -- she is the mistress of the millionaire Fred Gebhard.
1888 -- Lillie purchases a 4,200 acre winery in Lake County, California.
1891 (April) to her death in March 1893 -- she is the mistress of millionaire amateur jockey and pugilist George Alexander Baird.
1897 -- Lillie becomes an American citizen. (She divorces her husband in Lakeport, California.) (A few months later Edward Langtry dies as the result of an accident.)
1899 -- she marries the much younger Hugo Gerald de Bathe. He later becomes a big figure in the world of horse-racing and then retires to Monte Carlo.
1900-1903 -- she is the lessee and manager of London's Imperial Theatre.
1903 -- she stars in America in The Crossways.
1906 -- Lillie returns for her second tour of America. She sells her winery and vineyard.
1912 -- Lilie appears in vaudeville in America.
her final years -- Lillie resides in Monaco. (Her estranged husband lives only a short distance away.) Her close friend Mathilda Peat (widow of her butler) is her constant companion.
1929 (February 12) -- death of Lillie Langtry in Monaco. She was buried in the graveyard of her father's St. Savior's Church in Jersey.
Famous Judge Roy Bean of Texas was a life long admirer of Lillie. He named his saloon where he held court "The Jersey Lily". The Judge also built an opera house, but Lillie appeared there only after Bean's death.
Return To Main Page
Return to Home Page (Vernon Johns Society)