You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Henry Irving’ tag.


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
Related articles

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

Advertisements

Originally posted on WildeTimes.net.

A Private View at the Royal Academy, with captions pointing out Anthony Trollope, Prime Minister William Gladstone, Robert Browning, the Countess of Lonsdale, Lord Leighton, Lillie Langtry, Oscar Wilde, Ellen Terry and Henry Irving, and John Everett Millais

The opening of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London on the first Monday in May marked the beginning of ‘the Season’ for the élite of Victorian Society. This set in play three hectic months of balls, concerts, dinner parties, operas, horse riding in Hyde Park, the Derby and races at Royal Ascot, the Henley Royal Regatta and cricket at Lord’s. Young women pinned their hopes on getting engaged before the debutante balls, parties and concerts came to an end on 12 August, when fashionable people abandoned London and headed north to shoot grouse, partridges and pheasants as a prelude to fox-hunting.Whatever Oscar Wilde may have thought of fox-hunting (“the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable” as he called it in A Woman of No Importance), his social success is reflected in his appearance at the Royal Academy’s Private Viewing day in May 1881, an invitation-only event. At only 26 years of age, Wilde was a celebrity moving in the best circles, despite being an Irishman in xenophobic London.Wilde’s achievement is remarkable because in 1881 he had little writing to his name (his first and largely forgotten play, Vera, and a volume of poetry), yet he had made himself conspicuous enough as…

via The Apostle of the beautiful and the Season | WildeTimes.net.


ONE FROM THE ARCHIVE. In view of my recent posts about Maude Fealy, I thought it was time to reblog this article from 2012, partly because I have nothing else prepared!

First Night Design

As I have recently said on Facebook, whenever I sell a theatre-related design on whatever product, my heart leaps. Theatre is in my blood, partly because I spent over 30 years as an actress and partly because I was, as the saying goes, ‘born in a trunk’.  This theatre term used to mean that you were born on tour of theatrical parents and that while other babies spent their days and nights in cribs and prams, you spent yours sustained by the smell of greasepaint and curled up in the theatre’s wardrobe skip, either in the wings or one of  the dressing rooms.  Now it has the more general meaning of having theatrical parentage. I am reminded of another phrase, which was coined by the playwright Tom Robertson, as revealed by Clement Scott in The Drama of Yesterday and Today [Vol. I] (pub. Macmillan & Co, 1899), and of…

View original post 335 more words


As I have recently said on Facebook, whenever I sell a theatre-related design on whatever product, my heart leaps. Theatre is in my blood, partly because I spent over 30 years as an actress and partly because I was, as the saying goes, ‘born in a trunk’.  This theatre term used to mean that you were born on tour of theatrical parents and that while other babies spent their days and nights in cribs and prams, you spent yours sustained by the smell of greasepaint and curled up in the theatre’s wardrobe skip, either in the wings or one of  the dressing rooms.  Now it has the more general meaning of having theatrical parentage. I am reminded of another phrase, which was coined by the playwright Tom Robertson, as revealed by Clement Scott in The Drama of Yesterday and Today [Vol. I] (pub. Macmillan & Co, 1899), and of which I am very fond.  Robertson tells a story about a theatre child who has been “nursed on rose-pink and cradled in properties”.*  Aaah!

Imagine my delight, then, when a customer from the U.S. bought a collection of theatrical greeting cards,  which I created from my archive of vintage postcards.  Yesterday, I was thrilled anew by a slew of similar images selling to a British customer. Palace Theatre of Varieties Greeting Cards

Palace Theatre of Varieties

Varieties & Novelties Greeting Card 

Varieties & Novelties
Both the above are from original late 19th century music hall playbills for the Palace Theatre of Varieties, ‘The Handsomest Music Hall in Europe’. It was originally built as a venue for opera by Richard D’Oyly Carte but only one opera – Arthur Sullivan’s Ivanhoe – was ever produced. The theatre was renamed the Palace Theatre in 1911, a name it retains to this day.

Dame Gladys Cooper (1888-1971), mother of the actor Robert Morley and grandmother of the late theatre critic and writer, Sheridan Morley.
Sir Henry Irving (1838-1905), the first actor to be knighted.
Dame Ellen Terry (1847-1928) as Queen Guinevere in King Arthur at the Lyceum Theatre in 1895
Montage of several late 19th century and early 20th century British actresses.
Top row: Ellen Terry (1847-1928), Irene Vanbrugh (1872-1949), Gladys Cooper (1888-1971), Gabrielle Ray (1883-1973)
Middle Row: Ellaline Terris (1872-1971), Mary Moore (1861-1931), Ellen Terry (1847-1928), Ellen Terry (1847-1928)
Bottom Row: Pauline Chase (1885-1962), Phyllis Broughton (1862 -1926), Phyllis Neilson-Terry (1892-1977), Isabel Jay (1879 – 1927)
Julia Neilson (1863-1957) and Mr Henry Ainley (1879-1945) in Henry of Navarre (1908). Taken from Play Pictorial, an early 20th century equivalent of today’s Theatregoer.

Take care and keep laughing.

About Sarah & First Night Design

*Rose-pink is a lighting gel for the stage; properties are the ‘props’ used by the actors in a production such as a newspaper, a table lighter or a book.

TRANSLATE

Award-Free Blog

About Me

about.me

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 15,216 other followers

Archives

Categories

Artists 4 Peace

Twitter

FND on Twitter

Facebook

FND on Facebook

YesterdayAfter

© Sarah Vernon and First Night Design 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sarah Vernon and First Night Design with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Jots from a Small Apt.

Largely @ Liberty

Rethinking Life

Art and the philosophy of life

Croatia, the War, and the Future

Ina Vukic - Croatia: people, politics, history, economy, transition from communism to democracy

lynz real cooking

lynz real life

Pride's Purge

an irreverent look at UK politics

Pride's Purge

an irreverent look at UK politics

Tropical Affair

Observations of the illusion through the eyes of wonder...

barneyhoskyns.com

The home of writer Barney Hoskyns' books, poems, photos and more.

%d bloggers like this: