Years active
1688 – 1709

Stage Name // Legal/Birth Name
Anne Bracegirdle

Country of Origin
United Kingdom, England

Breeches Roles

Day Birth – Day Death
1673 – 1748


She was the daughter of Martha and Justinian Bracegirdle, who was believed to be a coachman. There are conflicting records on Anne’s life so the precise date and year of her birth is disputed, and therefore very little is known of her early life.

Due to financial ruin, her parents placed her in the care of actors Thomas and Mary Betterton where she learned her acting skills at a very young age. She played the parts of the page boy and the little girl as referred to in playbills for the Duke’s Company before 1688, where Thomas Betterton was a big star. Anne became an important member of the United Company as an audience favourite, which was reflected by the frequency with which she delivered at least nine prologues and twenty-one epilogues to her credit. Despite her sudden departure from the stage in 1705, she had a prosperous acting career and was frequently remarked as an audience and fellow actor favorite.

Historical Milestones

1673 – Born in Northamptonshire, England

1679 – At the tender age of six, she played the role of a page boy in Mustapha, a favorite of the time

1680 – Played the role of a page boy in Thomas Otway’s tragedy, The Orphan

1688 – Her name first appears as a member of the United Company which started in 1682 with the merger of the King’s Company and the Duke’s Company, both reknowned theatre companies

1689 – Played Semernia, a breeches role, in Aphra Behn’s play The Widow Ranter. She often returned to breeches roles throughout her nearly 20 year career.

1705 – Anne quit the stage as it became apparent that her rival, Anne Oldfield, was more favoured.

1709 – Made her final appearance in a benefit show for actor Thomas Betterton

1748 – Died, buried in Westminster Abbey


Highfill, Philip Jr, Burnim, Kalman A., and Langhans, Edward (1973–93). Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers and Other Stage Personnel in London, 1660–1800. 16 volumes. Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press

Howe, Elizabeth (1992). The First English Actresses: Women and Drama 1660–1700. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.