In 1895, Oscar Wilde selected her to play Gwendoline in the very first production of his play, The Importance of being Ernest. From then on, she performed leading roles in plays by Arthur Pinero, Somerset Maughan, A. A. Milne and George Bernard Shaw. J. M. Barrie was a particular admirer of her's and in 1916, he wrote a play for her called Pantomime.
She married fellow actor Dion Boucicault in 1901.
Just like her sister Violet, she soon became involved in the world of cinema, appearing in several films including
The rise of Catherine the Great (1934)
In which she played alongside Douglas Fairbanks jnr, Flora Robson and Gerald du Maurier as Princess Anhalt-Zerbst
Escape me never (1935)
In which Leon Quartermaine played Mr. McClean and she played his wife.
A Yank in London (1945) - also known as I live in Grosvenor Square
A comedy-drama directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Anna Neagle and Rex Harrison. Irene Vanbrugh played a cameo role as an actress portraying Dame Irene Vanbrugh!
Like dozens of other stars, throughout the 2nd World War, Irene regularly appeared in the morale-boosting performances organised by Sir Donald Wolfitt at the National Gallery and for her services was created a Dame of the British Empire.
She died 30 November 1949 at the age of 77 and was buried in the churchyard of St. Mary the Virgin, Hurley, Berks. Her husband, Dion, died in 1929 at the age of 70.