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Jessie Millward was a British actress who enjoyed success on stage both in Britain and the United States at the end of the 19th century. She was a close friend and alleged romantic partner of the actor William Terriss, who was murdered in 1897. She appears as a major character in "The Star of the Adelphi", written by Bert Coules for The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Early life[]

Millward was born in London, the daughter of a successful pantomime writer. She made her stage debut in 1881. In 1885, she met the popular actor William Terriss, with whom she co-starred in the extraordinarily successful play The Harbour Lights. The pair established a successful career as romantic leads. It was widely rumored that the two had also developed a romantic relationship, although Terriss was already married. They were soon invited to headline at the Adelphi Theater, where they remained a fixture until Terriss' murder in 1897.

The Star of the Adelphi[]

Involvement[]

After Terriss' murder, Millward visits Sherlock Holmes to engage his services in finding the killer on behalf of the Adelphi company. However, Holmes does not question Millward until after visiting Terriss' widow, who refuses to speak to him after hearing that Millward has hired him. When asked why, Millward admits that she and Terriss were in love, and claims that Terriss was planning on leaving his wife for her. She throws suspicion for the crime onto Terriss' son-in-law, Seymour Hicks, a rival actor whom she says seduced Terriss' daughter Ellaline just a few months previously. When Ellaline got pregnant, he had been forced to marry her. Millward tells Holmes that Terriss was furious over the pregnancy, as it meant the end of his daughter's career. Hicks, for his part, believed Terriss used his influence to obstruct his career and prevent from getting roles, giving him a motive for killing Terriss.

When Holmes finally succeeds in interviewing Terriss' family, he realizes Millward has been deliberately and maliciously misleading him. All three family members deny Millward's allegations, accusing her of being a compulsive liar obsessed with Terriss to the point of delusion. Mrs Terriss says that Millward simply wouldn't accept that Terriss didn't love her. She also insists that far from being angry about their daughter's pregnancy, both she and her husband were overjoyed. In fact, Ellaline and Seymour had already been married for two years.

Holmes and Watson confront Millward, but she is unapologetic about her actions. She admits to wanting to hurt Terriss for spurning her advances, and to lying to implicate Hicks out of spite towards the family. However, she denies killing Terriss, stating that she loved him too much to kill him. Holmes has nothing further to do with her. Though Watson is unconvinced by her denial, Holmes eventually proves she is telling the truth when he unveils the true killer as Richard Prince.

Personality[]

Millward is portrayed as an outwardly charming, if theatrical, woman. However, she is extraordinarily selfish, manipulative, and deceitful, and not above lying to get her way. Her obsession with Terriss and refusal to accept he did not love her strikes other characters as delusional. Nevertheless, she willfully spreads false rumors to convince others of her version of reality, no matter the cost to others' reputations. Finally, she has an extreme lack of empathy, demonstrated by her willingness to implicate an innocent man in murder just to hurt Terriss' family.

Trivia[]

  • While "The Star of the Adelphi" is one of the few Sherlock Holmes pastiches to showcase Holmes solving a a real-life crime, Millward's role is heavily fictionalized.

External links[]

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