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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


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


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”!

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Standard white envelopes included

Paper Type: Matte

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  • Light white, uncoated matte finish with an eggshell texture
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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


I just adore this portrait of Elizabeth Farren! As soon as I enter the gallery where she is housed (in the European wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art), I swoon. I hardly notice any othe…

Source: The Portrait of Elizabeth Farren, Painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1789) | cliocult…Muse your brain!


Features / The Divine Feminine 30 October 2015 / Art Universe 4 October 2015 / Everyday Women 10 September 2015 / Layered Up 9 September 2015 / Take a black and white scan of actress Miss Lillah McCarthy (1875–1960) as Viola in Twelfth Night (1912) from an issue of Play Pictorial in my theatre collection. Throw on some magic with Photoshop in the form of textures by 2 Lil’ Owls along with a Cretan seascape photograph shot from on board a fishing boat, plus a texture from Angie Makes, and Viola is transformed, translated. I’m thinking of Quince to Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (’Thou art translated’, Act 3, Scene 1) when I use this word in the title. • Also buy this artwork on stationery, apparel, stickers, and more.

Source: “Viola Translated” Spiral Notebooks by Sarah Vernon | Redbubble

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


This is a shameless plug for my friends Ana-Luisa and Simon Scrutton who recently moved to South West France to open two exquisite, traditional gites for idyllic holidays. As soon as I am properly settled back in England, I shall be booking myself in for a restorative break, of that you can be sure.

Fancy-Keyhole-Ornament-GraphicsFairy

‘We offer the visitor the most wonderful and unique experience in the tranquillity of a beautiful traditional Charente village of Lesterps, which is famous for its bonhomie, 11th/13th Century Abbaie (which can be seen from our garden) and the Richard Coeur de Lions trail which begins nearby. Lesterps has many public events including a famous accordion festival. The gardens here are extensive, We offer two splendid gites, Garden Gite, opens directly onto the landscaped grounds, from its beautiful kitchen, equipped with a splendid cooker range and log-burner. It has its own dining terrace which invites the visitor to…’

Source: Traditional Charente Holiday Cottages

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


Theatrical Attitude © Sarah Vernon

Theatrical Attitude © Sarah Vernon

This enchantress  was the famous late 19th and early 20th century actress and singer Miss Marie Tempest [1864-1942], who is referred to in the description on the back of my original print as ‘the prima donna of the English stage’ and possessing ‘a very beautiful voice which has had the training it deserves’.

I imagined a faded portrait in a frame that has suffered neglect and fire damage with a hint of gold breaking through. Naturally, I imagined no such thing but this is what came out when I faffed around in Photoshop with a couple of textures from 2 Lil’ Owls: 2LO Confetti 6 (Normal), 2LO – Crackle 11 (Multiply).

Theatrical aficionados might be interested to learn that the actress was the original Judith Bliss in Noël Coward’s Hay Fever. She was made a Dame in  1937.


“Hitler has taken nearly everything from me but my life, but you can’t live on regret. You’ve got to live for the present and future, not the past.”
She was forced to sell her art collection after losing her home in a German air raid during WWII. IMDb


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

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Take a black and white scan of actress Miss Lillah McCarthy (1875–1960) as Viola in Twelfth Night (1912) from an issue of Play Pictorial in my theatre collection. Throw on some magic in the form of textures by 2 Lil’ Owls (Owls Beguiling-18, 2LO – Crackle 11, and 2LO Confetti 6 along with a Cretan seascape photograph shot from on board a fishing boat,  plus a texture from Angie Makes (bluewatercolor), and Viola is transformed, translated. I’m thinking of Quince to Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (’Thou art translated’, Act 3, Scene 1) when I use this word in the title.

Miss Lillah McCarthy was the first wife of the playwright Harley Granville Barker, thrown over for a rich second wife. She created the role of Ann in George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman, among much else.


‘And let me see thee in thy women’s weeds.’
Orsino to Viola in Twelfth Night, Act 5, Scene 1


Available to buy at the following galleries!
Redbubble
Crated
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America
Fine Art England
Saatchi Art

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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