ADA LEVERSON, THE SPHINX

Ada Ester Beddington was born in 1862 into a large wealthy family. Her mother, Zilah Beddington, was one of the best-known amateur pianists of her day. Her father, Samuel Beddington, cultivated Ada's great interest in literature by engaging a graduate of Girton to teach her classics. Having been well grounded in French and German, a wide field of literature lay open to her. This education was the foundation of her literary style.

At the age of nineteen, she married thirty one year old Ernest Leverson, a prosperous businessman and a compulsive gambler. They had two children, but sadly it was not a very happy marriage. She met Oscar Wilde in 1892 and they instantly became friends, exchanging letters and telegrams. Ada wrote a parody of Wilde's poem "The Sphinx" and he nicknamed her "Sphinx" thereafter. She also wrote parodies of "The Ideal Husband" and "The Importance of Being Earnest." After his first trial, while Oscar was out on bail, the Leversons invited him to stay in their home, despite the scandal and controversy. They also went to meet him when he was released from prison.

Ernest lost a great deal of money gambling and with business enterprises. His father agreed to settle his debts and allow him to travel to Canada to set up a lumber business. Ada and her daughter Violet did not go with him and Ada began to write a weekly women's column in "The Referee" magazine. She did all her writing in bed, in a confusion of paper, newspapers, cigarettes and oranges. Her first novel "The Twelfth Hour" was published in 1907 and she wrote five more ending with "Love at Second Sight" in 1916.

The last few years of Ada's life were spent in the company of friends and family at the Washington Hotel in London. She loved conversing with visitors, despite the slight deafness that she found extraordinarily amusing. She travelled a great deal and was very friendly with Osbert Sitwell and his family. In 1933 she fell ill during a trip to Florence and died soon afterwards in England.

Programme Credits

Ada Leverson, The Sphinx Glynis Casson

The voice of Oscar Wilde Alan Stanford

And the voices of:

Seamus Allen

Noelle Brown

Kelly Campbell

Michael James Ford

Mark O'Halloran

Arthur Riordan

Directed by Michael James Ford

Set Design Bronwen Casson

Lighting and Sound Paul Timon

Costume Design Synan O'Mahony

Hair Ali Murphy

Home

 

Bio