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Dame Ellen Terry as Volumnia in Coriolanus Card

This signed photograph of Dame Ellen Terry (1847-1928) as Volumnia in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus is a treasured possession, left to me by the actress Rosamund Burne [? – 1975]. Ros was a close friend of my mother, Benedicta Leigh — both had worked together on stage in the Midlands during the late forties and early fifties. They remained friends until Ros died ‘in harness’ in 1975 while playing Queen Mary in a production of Crown Matrimonial by Royce Ryton.

Contained in a weathered, black leather frame, the photograph provides an evocative link to a long-gone generation of actors. Sadly, I have no knowledge of the picture’s provenance, other than that it was mounted and framed by art dealers and frame makers T & R Annan and Sons, established in Glasgow by photographer Thomas Annan in 1855.

It is addressed to “Winnie – In affectionate remembrance of Ellen Terry – 1902” but who was ‘Winnie’? Was she an admiring member of the audience, a fellow actress, a theatrical landlady, perhaps?

The phrase “affectionate remembrance” suggests a reasonably close association. Could it possibly be Miss Winifred Emery (1861-1024) who, wrote Miss Terry in her memoirs (The Story of My Life – Recollections & Reflections), “came to us for The Belle’s Stratagem and played the part that I had played years before at the Haymarket. She was bewitching, and in her white wig in the ball-room, beautiful as well. She knew how to bear herself on the stage instinctively, and could dance a minuet to perfection. The daughter of Sam Emery, a great comedian in a day of comedians, and the granddaughter of the Emery, it was not surprising that she should show aptitude for the stage.”

Photograph of Winifred Emery with her children

Photograph of Winifred Emery with her children (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Winifred Emery married Cyril Maude who was famous for his ability in light comedies from the pens of such as Frederick Lonsdale. Though born in 1862, Maude was still working as late as 1947, appearing as the Old Admiral in the film version of Rattigan’s While the Sun Shines, directed by Anthony Asquith.

Could Ros Burne have met or worked with either Winifred or Cyril and been given the picture by ‘Winnie’ herself if, indeed, this is the correct Winifred? It is just possible, even though Winifred died in 1924, for Ros was born in the early years of the 20th century and had not, to my knowledge, even reached the age of twenty when she started learning the ropes under the watchful eye of Lilian Baylis at the Old Vic.

I may never discover the full story behind the framed photograph but nothing can diminish the joy I take in its possession.

What is without doubt is that the signature is genuine and that Ellen Terry played Volumnia at the Lyceum Theatre in London in 1901 opposite Sir Henry Irving as Coriolanus. Her diary entry for 16 April, one of several recorded in her memoirs, reads: “The critics who wrote their notices at the dress-rehearsal, and complained of my playing pranks with the text, were a little premature. Oh, how bad it makes one feel to find that they all think my Volumnia ‘sweet’, and I thought I was fierce, contemptuous, overbearing. Worse, I felt as if I must be appearing like a cabman rating his Drury Lane wife!” By 20 April, however, she feels she is “beginning to play Volumnia a little better.”

The actress later comments on parents in Shakespeare’s plays: “How many times Shakespeare draws fathers and daughters, and how little stock he seems to take of mothers! Portia and Desdemona, Cordelia, Rosalind and Miranda, Lady Macbeth, Queen Katherine and Hermione, Ophelia, Jessica, Hero, and many more are daughters of fathers, but of their mothers we hear nothing. My own daughter called my attention to this fact quite recently, and it is really a singular fact. Of mothers of sons there are plenty of examples: Constance, Volumnia, the Countess Roussillon, Gertrude; but if there are mothers of daughters at all, they are poor examples, like Juliet’s mother and Mrs. Page.”

She goes on to wonder “if in all the many hundreds of books written on Shakespeare and his plays this point has been taken up?” Having once written a paper on ‘Letters in Shakespeare’s Plays’, which she had thought to be the first of its kind, she was given a rude awakening when she received a letter from a lady from Oxford who said she was “mistaken in thinking that there was no other contribution to the subject”. Enclosed was an essay of the lady’s own which led the actress to conclude that someone must have already addressed “Shakespeare’s patronage of fathers and neglect of mothers!” She wonders what the mothers of Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia were like: “I think Lear must have married twice.”

Sarah Vernon © 29-04-05

  • This is a revised version of an article first published on the Rogues & Vagabonds website 29-04-05 and transferred to the R&V blog on 29-03-13
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Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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BALTHASAR
(singing)
Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever,

BENEDICK
I would my horse had the speed of your
tongue, and so good a continuer, but keep your
way, i’ God’s name, I have done.
BEATRICE
You always end with a jade’s trick. I know
you of old.
(1.1.139-143)

Source: Beatrice and Benedick Postcard | Zazzle

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


I’m delighted to have sold two of these greeting cards. It’s a montage of British actresses from the late 19th and early 20th century from my theatrical postcard collection. Those of you interested in theatre greats will be happy to learn that Dame Ellen Terry features three times, for which I make no apology! If young actors have not heard of her, they have no right to be on the stage. [Ed. Too obstinate?] As the late Alan Rickman said — and I’m oft repeating —  “The profession should be and is a kind of relay race – about information, opinions and passions being passed on.” [Theatregoer Magazine, November 2001]

Source: The Actresses Card | Zazzle

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Orientation: Postcard

  • Dimensions: 4.25″ x 5.6″ (portrait) or 5.6″ x 4.25″ (landscape)
  • Full color CMYK print process
  • Double sided printing for no additional cost
  • Postage rate: $0.34

Paper Type: Matte

The most popular paper choice, Matte’s eggshell texture is soft to the touch with a smooth finish that provides the perfect backdrop for your chosen designs.

  • Light white, uncoated matte finish with an eggshell texture
  • Paper is easy to write on and won’t smudge
  • Made and printed in the USA

Source: The Yeomen of the Guard Postcard | Zazzle

N.B. I’m not currently responding to comments or visiting blogs because of ill-health but I much appreciate your support.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


While I’m still having problems with my sight and only able to ‘press’ products on sale from my various galleries as posts rather than create something new, I’m continuing with my vintage kick. This is a rather charming music sheet cover.

Size: Greeting Card

Birthdays or holidays, good days or hard days, Zazzle’s customized greeting cards are the perfect way to convey your wishes on any occasion. Add a photo or pick a design and brighten someone’s day with a simple “hi”!

  • Dimensions: 5″ x 7″ (portrait) or 7″ x 5″ (landscape)
  • Full colorCMYK print process
  • All-sided printing for no additional cost
  • Printable area on the back of the card is 3″ x 4″ (portrait) or 4″ x 3″ (landscape)

Standard white envelopes included

Paper Type: Matte

The most popular paper choice, Matte’s eggshell texture is soft to the touch with a smooth finish that provides the perfect backdrop for your chosen designs.

  • Light white, uncoated matte finish with an eggshell texture
  • Paper is easy to write on and won’t smudge
  • Made and printed in the USA

Source: Just Like the Will O’The Wisp Card | Zazzle

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Continuing in the same vein as yesterday, here is the inimitable English actress Dame Ellen Terry [1847-1928] in Much Ado About Nothing at the Lyceum Theatre in 1883.

Size: Greeting Card

Birthdays or holidays, good days or hard days, Zazzle’s customized greeting cards are the perfect way to convey your wishes on any occasion. Add a photo or pick a design and brighten someone’s day with a simple “hi”!

  • Dimensions: 5″ x 7″ (portrait) or 7″ x 5″ (landscape)
  • Full color CMYK print process
  • All-sided printing for no additional cost
  • Printable area on the back of the card is 3″ x 4″ (portrait) or 4″ x 3″ (landscape)

Standard white envelopes included

Paper Type: Matte

The most popular paper choice, Matte’s eggshell texture is soft to the touch with a smooth finish that provides the perfect backdrop for your chosen designs.

  • Light white, uncoated matte finish with an eggshell texture
  • Paper is easy to write on and won’t smudge
  • Made and printed in the USA

Source: Dame Ellen Terry Card | Zazzle

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


I’m feeling less than divine at the moment but I hope you enjoy this exquisite image of my namesake which you can buy as cards, postcards and posters.

The great French stage actress of the late 19th century, Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923).

Orientation: Postcard

Create your own vacation-worthy postcards right here. Any view you’ve seen, any monument you’ve fallen in love with, can all be added to our postcards with our personalization tool. Craft touching, hand-written correspondence while on your next road trip!

  • Dimensions: 4.25″ x 5.6″ (portrait) or 5.6″ x 4.25″ (landscape)
  • Full colour CMYK print process
  • Double sided printing for no additional cost
  • Postage rate: $0.34

Paper Type: Matte

The most popular paper choice, Matte’s eggshell texture is soft to the touch with a smooth finish that provides the perfect backdrop for your chosen designs.

  • Light white, uncoated matte finish with an eggshell texture
  • Paper is easy to write on and won’t smudge
  • Made and printed in the USA

Source: The Divine Sarah Postcard | Zazzle

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Please do check out my friend Ana-Luisa’s delightful handmade concoctions for Christmas at running hare art & design. She and I have known each for many years and worked together on a musical adaptation of Alice Through the Looking Glass, she as The White Queen and me as The Red Queen. It was excellent casting all round!
runninghare

Source: Ana-Luisa de Cavilla Scrutton Maker/Artist – Room and Christmas Decorations

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Miss Marie Studholme  [1875-1930], a popular Edwardian performer, played the title role in a 1905 production of the musical comedy  Lady Madcap. The music was by Paul Rubens who wrote the lyrics with Percy Greenbank, while the book was written by Nathaniel Newnham-Davis, The show had originally opened at the Prince of Wales Theatre in 1904 before touring the provinces. The tale is a classic of its time with the daughter of an Earl holding a ball at her father’s castle without, of course, telling him. Once she decides to pose as her maid, mayhem ensues.

Born Caroline Maria Lupton in Bradford, Marie Studholme made her debut at the Lyric Theatre in London during the late 19th century although her later career would show that she was particularly popular with provincial audiences. It is said that she charged sixpence for autographs so she could donate the money to theatrical and animal charities, a practice I think should be introduced across the board today.

Bradford Alhambra [Wikipedia]Bradford Alhambra [Wikipedia]

She apparently took Jujitsu lessons and invented an early form of air conditioning by blowing air from an electric fan over iced water. One 21st century commentator  has referred to her as the ‘original Spice Girl’. No comment!

Miss Marie Studholme retired in 1915 but not before rounding off her career by performing at the opening of the Alhambra music hall in her home town the previous year.


‘Miss Marie Studholme was beautiful, of course, as Alice, and easily found her way to favour by her graceful dancing.’ Review of Alice at the The Prince of Wales Theatre, London, in Lloyds Weekly News [London] – 23rd June, 1906.


Available at the following galleries:
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Crated
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Fine Art America [14 fulfillment centers in 5 countries]

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Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


When asked by an actor he had cast in a small role in What Every Woman Knows how he should play it, Sir James Barrie said:

“I am glad you have asked me. I should like you to convey when you are acting it that the man you portray has a brother in Shropshire who drinks port.”

Taken from Great Theatrical Disasters by Gyles Brandreth.
greatheatricaldisasters

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


London Theatre Land — Late 19th Century-Early 20th Century

A little trip back in time when going to the theatre or opera was a grand occasion, manners mattered and programmes were beautiful mementoes to be kept and treasured, a time when advertisements pleased the eye in ways they no longer do.

The Gondoliers Postcard
The Gondoliers Postcard by FirstNightDesign

Royal English Opera's Ivanhoe Greeting Card
Royal English Opera’s Ivanhoe Greeting Card by FirstNightDesign

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Gladys Cooper [1888-1971] in Fancy Dress Greeting Card
Miss Gladys Cooper [1888-1971] in Fancy Dress Greeting Card by FirstNightVintage


Looking into a mirror on her deathbed: ‘If this is what virus pneumonia does to one, I really don’t think I shall bother to have it again.’ IMDb

I do hope this is not apocryphal!


Miss Gladys Cooper Greeting Card
Miss Gladys Cooper [1888-1971] Greeting Card by FirstNightVintage

Unless you’re a theatre buff, you will probably only know Gladys Cooper for her grand ladies on screen such as Bette Davis’ mother, Mrs Henry Vale, in Now, Voyager or Beatrice Lacy in Rebecca.

In Now, Voyager (1942) [Wikipedia]

In Now, Voyager (1942) [Wikipedia]

I always find it enchanting to see how beautiful these wonderful actresses were in their younger days. Have you ever seen a photograph of Ethel Barrymore when young? I think you’ll be surprised. Which reminds me that I have a terrific theatre postcard of her brother John with which I must do something before the century turns.

Available at the following galleries:
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Now here’s a vintage ballet theatre programme illustrated by Léon Bakst that I haven’t played with! I bought it from Mindy Sommers at Vintage Stock Art and gave it a soupçon of restorative magic so that you can buy it as a greeting card, postcard, print or US stamp in the Theatre & Film section of First Night Vintage. You will also find many other products with the image at Fine Art America & England (see links below).

Nijinsky dans La Peri — Ballets Russes Postcard
Nijinsky dans La Peri — Ballets Russes Postcard by FirstNightVintage

Nijinsky circa 1912 [Wikimedia]

Nijinsky circa 1912 [Wikimedia]

The incomparable Vaslev Nijinsky (1890-1950) was so famous a dancer with Sergei Diaghilev’s (1872–1929) Les Ballets Russes that he, along with Diaghilev, was one of the few people known the world over by surname alone; both are inextricably linked with early 20th century arts. Nijinsky went on to choreograph Debussy’s L’Après-midi d’un faune (1912) and Stravinsky’s (1882–1971) The Rite of Spring (1913), which impresario Diaghilev produced. Ballets Russes was founded by the latter in 1909 and Stravinsky was not the only composer to be commissioned. Also included were Satie (1866–1925) and Rimsky-Korsakov (1844–1908), while there were sets designed by Picasso (1881–1973) and Jean Cocteau (1889–1963). Names to conjure with indeed. Add fellow dancers, Michael Fokine (1880–1942), Anna Pavlova (1881–1931) and George Balanchine (1904–83), and you can see why the company was so instrumental in reviving ballet as an art form.

If you like this, as they say at many online stores and give you examples you wouldn’t touch with a bargepole, you might also like Schéhérazade.

Available at the following galleries:
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America
Fine Art England

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


I present Miss Lily Elsie (1886-1962) and Mr Joseph Coyne (1861-1947) in The Merry Widow in 1907

This Edwardian production in which Lily Elsie made her name, was the beginning of a glittering career for the actress on the musical stage. Everyone wanted to see the show which had music by Franz Lehar and lyrics by Adrian Ross. Based on the Viennese operetta Die Lustige Witwe by Victor Leon and Leo Stein, it was adapted from Henri Meilhae’s play L’Attaché d’Ambassade. Apparently, King Edward VII saw it four times.   LilyElsie.com

Joseph Coyne was an American-born musical actor who started his career in Vaudeville. He first went to London to appear in 1901 and spent most of his career on the British stage. “It is no good their pretending to be any one else. We go to see themselves, and all we ask is that the authors and others shall give them every chance of being themselves in the most pronounced and personal fashion,” said one critic about Coyne. Wikipedia

The Merry Widow Bicycle Playing Cards
The Merry Widow Bicycle Playing Cards by FirstNightDesign

I’m particularly fond of the image because I love the damage that age has wrought and was not inclined to repair it digitally when I first added to my Zazzle store a few years ago.

The Merry Widow iPhone 5 Case
The Merry Widow iPhone 5 Case by FirstNightDesign

Available at the following galleries:
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


When I was in a production of And Then There Were None in 1982 in the seaside resort of Southwold — I played the housekeeper who (spoiler alert!) dies in the opening scene — it was still going under its politically incorrect title of Ten Little Niggers. Even at the time we thought that was a bad idea, but the producer of this seaside rep was insistent.

I very much enjoyed watching the BBC’s giallo-inspired, and star packed, dramatisation of And Then There were None, released in the UK over the Christmas break. A superior piece of storytelling, the production was praised for re-invigorating the Christie formula, stripping back the fustiness to let the sheer bloodthirstiness of the piece shine through.

The series made me wonder whether “the golden age” of detective fiction as popularised in the 1920’s and 30’s in itself deserved something of a re-appraisal. Although extremely popular, the particular brand of English country house detective story epitomised by And then There Were None, has never enjoyed critical approval.

As Raymond Chandler put it in his classic essay on The Simple Art Of Murder, “the classic detective story, has learned nothing and forgotten nothing”.  While some authors may be better stylists than others, the same cast of…

Source: Agatha Christie and “cosy” crime | The Badger’s Sett

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