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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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What a fine Bank Holiday treat — I’ve sold 50 of these invitations!

Source: At the Circus 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

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Standard white envelopes included

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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


Size: Standard Size Business Card, 3.5″ x 2.0″

When it comes to your business, don’t wait for opportunity, create it! Make a lasting impression with quality cards that WOW.

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Paper Type: Signature UV Matte

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Source: Vesta Tilley Business Card | Zazzle

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Size: Greeting Card

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

  • Dimensions: 5″l x 7″w (portrait) or 7″l x 5″w (landscape)
  • Printed on 110 lb, 12.5 point thick, semi-gloss paper
  • Matte finish inside for smudge-free writing
  • Add photos and text to all sides of this folded card at no extra charge
  • Printable area on the back of the card is 3″l x 4″w (portrait) or 4″l x 3″w (landscape)
  • Standard white envelopes included

Source: Twelfth Night Greeting Card | Zazzle

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Vision and Bite Update; No great fall-out from the removal of the wisdom (apart from the actual tooth) but my left eye is not as good as it was over the weekend. Hey, diddle diddle! Onwards, upwards.

Size: Greeting Card

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

  • Dimensions: 5″l x 7″w (portrait) or 7″l x 5″w (landscape)
  • Printed on 110 lb, 12.5 point thick, semi-gloss paper
  • Matte finish inside for smudge-free writing
  • Add photos and text to all sides of this folded card at no extra charge
  • Printable area on the back of the card is 3″l x 4″w (portrait) or 4″l x 3″w (landscape)
  • Standard white envelopes included

Source: Punch & Judy Story Plate I Greeting Card | Zazzle

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


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


FROM THE ARCHIVE

Originally posted on First Night Design.

Although this engraving by Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Charles Pugin is available online in the public domain, mine is actually a scan from an original print published as Plate 69 of Microcosm of London (1810) which my parents had bought from a local antique dealer in the 1960s.

I have not been able to discover what’s being performed but it looks something of a spectacular production what with the horse and carriage, the Boadicea-like figure and gigantic pillars! If anyone has any ideas, let me know.

While the following quote is not from the early 19th century, it describes what Sadler’s Wells had become by the 1840s:

‘Without, the theatre, by night, was like the worst part of the worst kind of Fair in the worst kind of town. Within, it was a bear-garden, resounding with foul language, oaths, catcalls, shrieks, yells, blasphemy, obscenity – a truly diabolical clamour. Fights took place anywhere, at any period of the performance… Sickly children in arms were squeezed…

via First Night Design | Sadler’s Wells Theatre by Rowlandson & Pugin | First Night Design.


Originally posted on First Night Design in 2013.

The origin of this image is unknown, which suggests it is rare.  At a guess, it dates from the late 1910s or early 1920s and was possibly the cover of a ballet and theatre periodical.  It is an image I fell in love with  a couple of years ago when I was exploring Vintage Art Download, an exquisite site full of vintage images — some very rare — offered for sale by Mindy Sommers of Color Bakery.

 

Click here for all other products with this image.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

via Just Because I Love this Cushion | First Night Design.


I can think of nothing new or funny to say about no computer so here’s a clown I made earlier! When I’m up and running again, I promise to reply to your comments. I have been able to read some of your posts but the like button fails to load most of the time.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah x

First Night Design

Buy Clown in the Mirror © First Night Design on prints & postersBuy—Clown in the Mirror © First Night Design on prints & posters

I have filched a painting from my late mother and made it my own. Benedicta painted her clown in her teens — not that they were known as such an entity when she was growing up in the 1920s and ’30s. I say filched but I inherited it!

Untitled Clown by Benedicta Leigh Untitled Clown by Benedicta Leigh

To create a different colour palette for him. I used several 2 Lil’ Owls textures from the Confetti series.

2-lil-owls-textures-confetti2-lil-owls-textures-confetti

To set the whole thing off, I used another 2 Lil’ Owls texture from the Distressed series for a background on which you can see the faint markings of a musical score.

2LO Distressed 52LO Distressed 5

My mother’s clown now looks as if he is checking himself in the mirror before going on stage, an effect that was coincidental but was pointed out to me by ‘him…

View original post 19 more words


The Palace Theatre of Varieties
The Palace Theatre of Varieties

Palace Theatre of Varieties Greeting Cards
Palace Theatre of Varieties Greeting Cards

Both of these designs are adapted from my original late 19th century music hall playbills for the Palace Theatre of Varieties, ‘The Handsomest Music Hall in Europe’.

This London theatre 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.

Varieties & Novelties Greeting Card
Varieties & Novelties Greeting Card


‘Without music life would be a mistake.’
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Although this engraving by Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Charles Pugin is available online in the public domain, mine is actually a scan from an original print published as Plate 69 of Microcosm of London (1810) which my parents had bought from a local antique dealer in the 1960s.

I have not been able to discover what’s being performed but it looks something of a spectacular production what with the horse and carriage, the Boadicea-like figure and gigantic pillars! If anyone has any ideas, let me know.

While the following quote is not from the early 19th century, it describes what Sadler’s Wells had become by the 1840s:

‘Without, the theatre, by night, was like the worst part of the worst kind of Fair in the worst kind of town. Within, it was a bear-garden, resounding with foul language, oaths, catcalls, shrieks, yells, blasphemy, obscenity – a truly diabolical clamour. Fights took place anywhere, at any period of the performance… Sickly children in arms were squeezed out of shape, in all parts of the house. Fish was fried at the entrance doors. Barricades of oyster shells encumbered the pavement. Expectant half-price visitors to the gallery, howled defiant impatience up the stairs, and danced a sort of Carmagnole all round the building.’

A description in Household Words, October 1851, of the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in the 1840s, cited by Claire Tomalin in her book,  The Invisible Woman. Tomalin writes of the theatre as being in a state of ‘Hogarthian brutishness’.

Incidentally, if you haven’t read The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens, it is a riveting read about the actress who became the mistress of Charles Dickens.

There is also a new film version starring Ralph Fiennes and Felicity Jones: The Invisible Woman [DVD] [2014].

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


I have filched a painting from my late mother and made it my own. Benedicta painted her clown in her teens — not that they were known as such an entity when she was growing up in the 1920s and ’30s. I say filched but I inherited it!

Untitled Clown by Benedicta Leigh

Untitled Clown by Benedicta Leigh

To create a different colour palette for him. I used several 2 Lil’ Owls textures from the Confetti series.

To set the whole thing off, I used another 2 Lil’ Owls texture from the Distressed series for a background on which you can see the faint markings of a musical score.

My mother’s clown now looks as if he is checking himself in the mirror before going on stage, an effect that was coincidental but was pointed out to me by ‘him indoors’, thus prompting the title.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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