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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


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


Poor mad Ophelia

Sir John Gilbert (1817-1897) the famous English painter and illustrator, is now remembered for his woodcut illustrations for the works of Shakespeare though in his lifetime he preferred his medieva…

Source: Sir John Gilbert & Shakespeare – The View From Sari’s World


Make Me a Willow Cabin Valentine Postcard
Make Me a Willow Cabin Valentine Postcard

Make Me a Willow Cabin was created some time ago but I don’t think I’ve ever sold it as a greeting card or postcard or on anything, which is a shame. I’m rather fond of it.

‘Make me a willow cabin…,’ declares Viola to Olivia in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Viola, disguised as Cesario, has been sent by Orsino to declare his love for Olivia. Viola, however, chooses to give the message in her own way, telling Olivia that if he, Cesario, were in love with her, he would go much further than simply send a go-between.

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Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Created in Photoshop with a Bakst illustration from Wikimedia and a texture by Lenabem-Anna J, which I adapted with one of my own textures.

Black Stallion Greeting Card
Black Stallion Greeting Cards at Zazzle by FirstNightDesign


“It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse.”
Adlai E. Stevenson II


Black Stallion Throw Pillow
Black Stallion Throw Pillows at Zazzle by FirstNightDesign


“Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people. ”
W.C. Fields



“Horses make a landscape look beautiful.”
Alice Walker



“When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes. ”
William Shakespeare, Henry V


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Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


A very quick post to tell you I’m back! Yesterday was exhausting as I waded through thousands of emails. To say I’ll catch up with your posts from the last few days would be extremely stupid as I know from experience that it just ain’t gonna happen. But I hope to start afresh today.

SONNET 116

[The italics denote which part of the sonnet is quoted on the bag.]

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


‘Like a Lapwing’ © Sarah Vernon

‘Like a Lapwing’ © Sarah Vernon


‘For look where Beatrice like a lapwing runs
Close by the ground, to hear our conference.’
Hero talking with Ursula about Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, 
Act III, Scene I


I was completely wrong when I published the Ruddy Duck post to say it was the fourth in my bird collection using images from The Biodiversity Heritage Library on Flickr; it was the third. ‘Like a Lapwing’ is my fourth!

To read more about lapwings, visit Wikimedia. Can you tell I don’t have the energy to add information about lapwings in my own words? Nor can I summon the wherewithal to find a better source of information!

The quote, by the way, is a favourite from Much Ado. My mother was lucky enough to see Peggy Ashcroft as Beatrice at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in 1950. “When Dame Peg made her entrance in the scene, she was exactly like a lapwing,” said my mother.

[Sir John] Gielgud revived his own colourful, ingeniously designed 1949 production a year later, casting himself as Benedick to Peggy Ashcroft’s Beatrice. On the first night the pair drank a bottle of champagne before going on – and according to Gielgud “never played so well in our lives”. London would see the show in 1952 and 1955. The Daily Telegraph

‘Like a Lapwing’ will soon be available to buy.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


The work of the Dutch-born artist Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema [1836-1912] is unmistakable. A dazzling Mediterranean sea? Exquisitely rendered marble? A delectable female or two draped in classical robes? The chances are you’re looking at a painting by Alma-Tadema. His detailed brush strokes and rich colours owe much to his Dutch forebears and while one might consider his paintings to be somewhat chocolate-box pretty, it’s difficult  not to be charmed by them. You may remember that the last time I mentioned Sir Lawrence was when I adapted another of his pieces, Ask Me No More, for The Proposal.

Lourens Alma Tadema

Lourens Alma Tadema [Wikipedia]

The Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra was commissioned by a Samuel Hawk of New York in 1883 and painted in 1885, its inspiration taken from Shakespeare’s play. Alma-Tadema trained at the Royal Academy of Antwerp in Belgium but moved to England in 1870 and there he remained, though he was in Wiesbaden, Germany, when he died in 1912.

Lourens Alma Tadema's birth house and statue in Dronrijp, Netherlands

Lourens Alma Tadema’s birth house and statue in Dronrijp, Netherlands [Wikipedia]

Available at the following galleries:
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Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


This painting of Ellen Terry and Henry Irving as Beatrice and Benedict in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing in 1882 is from The Library of Congress and enchanting in its own right.

The background is a blend of the interior of The Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in 1851 from an old encyclopaedia — the venue was originally constructed in Hyde Park and the exhibition was organised by Prince Albert and Henry Cole — and textures from 2 Lil’ Owls.

As soon as I layered the actors over the blended background, it conjured up the likes of William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti!


Benedick
That I neither feel how she should be loved
nor know how she should be worthy is the opinion
that fire cannot melt out of me. I will die in it at the
stake.


Available at the following galleries:
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Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Miss Ellen Terry as Beatrice Throw Pillow
Miss Ellen Terry as Beatrice Throw Pillows

It is such a treat to have sold a greeting card of Ellen Terry as Beatrice in Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing alongside a matching cushion. I have lived with this theatrical postcard all my life. It was given to my mother by an actress friend and my mother handed it on to me.

In her memoir, The Story of My Life: Recollections and Reflections, Dame Ellen writes:

‘When Henry Irving put on “Much Ado About Nothing”—a play which he may be said to have done for me, as he never really liked the part of Benedick—I was not the same Beatrice at all. A great actor can do nothing badly, and there was so very much to admire in Henry Irving’s Benedick. But he gave me little help. Beatrice must be swift, swift, swift! Owing to Henry’s rather finicking, deliberate method as Benedick, I could never put the right pace into my part. I was also feeling unhappy about it, because I had been compelled to give way about a traditional “gag” in the church scene, with which we ended the fourth act. In my own production we had scorned this gag, and let the curtain come down on Benedick’s line: “Go, comfort your cousin; I must say she is dead, and so farewell.” When I was told that we were to descend to the buffoonery of:

Beatrice: Benedick, kill him—kill him if you can.
Benedick: As sure as I’m alive, I will!

I protested, and implored Henry not to do it. He said that it was necessary: otherwise the “curtain” would be received in dead silence. I assured him that we had often had seven and eight calls without it. I used every argument, artistic and otherwise. Henry, according to his custom, was gentle, would not discuss it much, but remained obdurate. After holding out for a week, I gave in. “It’s my duty to obey your orders, and do it,” I said, “but I do it under protest.” Then I burst into tears. It was really for his sake just as much as for mine. I thought it must bring such disgrace on him! Looking back on the incident, I find that the most humorous thing in connection with it was that the critics, never reluctant to accuse Henry of “monkeying” with Shakespeare if they could find cause, never noticed the gag at all!


Ellen Terry  drawn from photographs  by  Albert Sterner

Ellen Terry drawn from photographs by Albert Sterner and included in her memoir.


“This mutable woman, all instinct, sympathy and sensation, is as painstaking a student and as careful of the dignity of her art as Flaubert himself.” Virginia Woolf

“[Her name] rings like a chime through the last quarter of the 19th century.” George Bernard Shaw

“Blow that word charm! There is more to my acting than charm!” Ellen Terry

These three quotes are taken from a Lynne Truss article in The Guardian.


Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


A lovely vintage image from The Graphics Fairy tarted up by me with texture and grunge from my magic cupboard!


“Oh, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear,
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear.
So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows
As yonder lady o’er her fellows shows.
The measure done, I’ll watch her place of stand,
And, touching hers, make blessèd my rude hand.
Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight!
For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.”
― William Shakespeare

Available at the following galleries:
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Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


My internet connection is even worse today so no chance of doing a new post. Here’s a Valentine one from a year ago. I am aware that you’ve seen the first one recently!

First Night Design

One of the most insightful of quotes about love and the nature of relationships comes from William Shakespeare and features on an early design of mine.

Love is Not Love... CardLove is Not Love… Card by FirstNightDesign

“Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove.” Shakespeare, sonnet 116

It is easy to forget this when young.  Desperate for love after a confusing  and contradictory set of lessons from childhood, I would constantly alter and bend in my late teens and early 20s.  This is not love.  If the object of your affections wants to mould you a certain way, or you get the feeling he or she is not going to like you if you behave a certain way, this is not love.

schulz-lucy

If someone loves you, they love you, warts and all, and it matters not a jot if you have heavy thighs or a…

View original post 290 more words


Love is Not Love... Cards
Love is Not Love… Cards

Shakespeare sonnet 116: ‘Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove’.

All Valentine products
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Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Vintage pear from The Graphics Fairy.


“I warrant they would whip me with their fine wits till I were as crest-fallen as a dried pear.” The Merry Wives of Windsor

‘Eating pears cleans the teeth.’ Korean proverb


Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


A re-blog from the archive.

First Night Design

International Women's Day 8th MarchInternational Women’s Day 8th March 2014

To mark the day, I am paying tribute to a woman whose influence has been remarkable, whose work has inspired generation after generation, and to whom I just happen to be distantly related!

When I was first introduced to Jane Austen, I found her difficult to read. This was partly because she was labeled a ‘classic’ writer that we had to study at school, along with Dickens and Shakespeare and so forth, and our English teacher was evidently an actress manqué whose renditions rendered us speechless with horror.  I loathed Shakespeare until my parents took me to an RSC production of Twelfth Night with Judi Dench, Richard Pasco and Elizabeth Spriggs.  Immediately I understood what the fuss was about.

My parents introduced me to many artistic delights but the time when they would have urged me to read Austen was a time…

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