Actress Mrs Maesmore Morris was a renowned beauty who overcame domestic violence to have an international career.
She was born in England in 1872 as Gertrude Willmot the daughter of an doctor. Ten years later she arrived in Australia with her father and at the age of 20 she married Maesmore Morris, an accountant and son of a prosperous iron merchant.
After the birth of a son and the loss of his job, Maesmore turned to alcohol and subsequently became violent towards Gertrude.
The family had no means of support so Gertrrude, with her husband's permission, took to the stage.
She worked for J C Williamson and played with Julius Knight for two years, but this relief in the family finances did not calm her husband.Maesmore began threatening Gertrude's life and he made a scene at the theatre in 1897 yelling obscenities at her as she appeared on stage.
He threw her out of the family home and Gertrude went on tour with Knight, hoping to avoid her abusive husband.
In 1899 she was offered a contract with an English manager and eagerly left for London. She remained there for almost five years and returned to Australia to support Nellie Stewart in a series of plays in 1904.
In 1905 she finally divorced Maesmore, although throughout her theatrical career she had continued to use the name Mrs Maesmore Morris.
The next year she returned to England and remarried. She retired into private life and left a legacy as one of the most beautiful and bravest actresses to appear on the Australian stage.
She died in England in 1951