Gwladys Ethel Gwendolen Eugénie Sutherst (1884 – 1959), after 1905 Gwladys, Marchioness Townshend, was a British writer. In addition to writing novels, poems, and plays, she was likely "the first peeress to write for the cinema." She also served a term as Mayor of King's Lynn. The details of her marriage and finances were often aired in the courtroom and in newspapers.
Gwladys Sutherst Townshend was credited as the scenarist on eight silent films, all of them now lost, made by the Clarendon studio, all of them made in 1913, 1914, or 1915, all starring Dorothy Bellew and directed by Wilfred Noy. Titles included The Convent Gate, The House of Mystery, and A Strong Man's Love. She claimed to be "the first peeress to write for the cinema."
Her play Sir John and the Compriere was produced in 1914, in London. She co-edited a fiction collection, True Ghost Stories (1936). Her autobiography, It Was, and It Wasn't, was published in 1937. Other books by Townshend included a book of poems, In the King's Garden (1906), and a novel, The Widening Circle (1920).
In 1928 she was elected to a term as Mayor of King's Lynn, though she opposed the idea of women as lawmakers. "As Mayor I give two banquets a year, a reception to the townspeople, open bazars, lay cornerstones, and represent the town at all affairs," she explained to an American reporter. In that role, she traveled to the United States in 1929, to help the city of Lynn, Massachusetts, celebrate its tercentenary.
Gwladys Sutherst married twice. In 1905 she married John Townshend, 6th Marquess Townshend; their financial arrangements became the subject of scandal and lawsuits, when it was revealed that her father did not make an expected settlement on the couple. There were also concerns that her husband's mental status was unsound, and accusations that Gwladys was keeping him hidden even from his mother. The Townshends had two children, George and Elizabeth; given earlier scandals, the paternity of the Townshend children was also a matter of press speculation. Gwladys was widowed when John died in 1921. She remarried, to Bernard le Strange. She died in 1959, aged 75 years, in London.
- Mirte Terpstra, "Gwladys, Marchioness of Townshend" Women Film Pioneers Project (September 27, 2013).
- "Remarkable Case of the Marquis of Townshend" New York Times (March 18, 1906): SM7.
- Marquis de Fontenoy, "Queer Stories of a Queer Peer" The Washington Post (March 3, 1906): 6.
- "Disbarment for Sutherst" The Washington Post (May 17, 1908): E10.
- Urbanora, "More from the Marchioness" The Bioscope (June 23, 2007).
- "Interview with the Marchioness" The Bioscope (July 30, 1914): 429-431.
- "Trade Topics" The Bioscope (July 23, 1914): 317.
- Gwladys Townshend and Maude Ffoulkes, eds., True Ghost Stories (Senate 1936).
- The Online Books Page of Gladys Ethel Gwendolen Eugenie Sutherst Townshend, University of Pennsylvania Libraries.
- "Lady Mayor of Lynn" Boston Sunday Globe (May 26, 1929): B3.
- Gertrude O'Brien, "Marchioness Works for Common Ideal" Daily Boston Globe (June 30, 1929): A13.
- "Townshend Married a Bankrupt's Daughter" New York Times (August 12, 1906): 4.
- "The Townshend Case: A Chance for Playwrights" The Bystander (August 15, 1906): 315.
- "Le Roman d'un Jeune Homme Pauvre... d'Esprit" Fémina (Septembre 1, 1906): 385-386.
- "Peer's Sanity on Trial" Chicago Daily Tribune (March 12, 1906): 2.
- "Eccentric Marquis a Prisoner" The San Francisco Call (March 18, 1906): 1. via California Digital Newspaper Collection
- "Marquess Townshend" The Telegraph (April 29, 2010).
- "Mystery of the Marchioness' Baby" The Washington Post (September 17, 1916): MT3.
- "Marchioness of Townshend" New York Times (October 13, 1959): 39.