1791 – 1872 A.D.
Eliza O’Neill, a beautiful young Irish actress, who enjoyed one of the shortest and most brilliant careers on the English stage.
She was the daughter of a poor actor in Drogheda, Ireland, where she made her first appearance as a child. Later she played in the theatres of Belfast and Dublin, and the reputation of her abilities led to a London engagement.
In October, 1814, she made her début at Covent Garden as Juliet to teh Romeo Conway. A success altogether beyond the modest expectations of the management was reaped; the houses were nightly crowded, and Miss O’Neill was hailed with extravagant enthusiasm. For five years she was a reigning favorite, commanding acceptance in Lady Teazle and other comedy parts, but causing a profound sensation in Juliet, Belvidera, Monimia, and other characters belonging to tragedy.
Through her theatrical career an unblemished reputation was maintained, and in 1819 she married an Irish member of Parliament, William Wrixon, afterwards Baron Beecher, and left the stage never to return.
Lady Becher lived to be eighty-one, and was usually referred to as “the great Miss O’Neill.” Macready, speaking of her début says: “Her beauty, grace, simplicity, and tenderness were the theme of every tongue. The noble pathos of Siddons’ genius no longer served as the grand commentary and living exponent of Shakespeare’s text, but in the native elegance, the feminine sweetness, the unaffected earnestness and gushing passion of Miss O’Neill the stage had received a worthy successor of her.”
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.