Putting Faces to Names : Haselden’s Theatrical Cartoons

Recently I’ve been working on a collection of Punch cartoons by W.K. Haselden. The British Cartoon Archive has hundreds of cartoons by Haselden, and he is one of the most recognizable cartoonists of the early 20th century. His theatrical cartoons appeared in the ‘At the Play’ (or occasionally ‘At the Movies’ and ‘At the Revue’) section of Punch, and span a good twenty five years from the early 1910s. They feature many recognizable names and here I bring you a selection of my favourites.

Some hefty tomes

Some hefty tomes

This work has required a lot of research on my part, as I try to identify and create records for the people portrayed in the cartoons. I have met hundreds of actors and actresses along the way, often with the help of the books you can see on the right. Some of my favourite names include Beppie de Vries, Norman V. Norman and Beatrice Appleyard. Here I present to you some more familiar names I came across as I catalogued the collection.

Dame Sybil Thorndike

Sybil Thorndike was born in the late 19th century, and she’s a local girl. Whilst she was born in Lincolnshire, her brother (also an actor, although perhaps more well known as an author) Russell was born down the road in Rochester, where their father was a canon at the cathedral. Sybil attended Rochester Grammar School for Girls, and is probably their most well-known pupil. She was most famous as a theatre actress, and was so well known in her day that she was in the ‘Black Book’ of people to be arrested if the Nazis ever invaded Britain!

Sybil Thorndike in "St. Joan" - a role created for her by George Bernard Shaw

Sybil Thorndike in “St. Joan” – a role created for her by George Bernard Shaw

 

The Medea

The Medea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Laurie

John Laurie is perhaps most remembered for his part in Dad’s Army, as my favourite character Frazer, but this was by no means his most significant role. He was also a part of hit Sixties shows The Avengers and The Ken Dodd Show, and appeared often on stage, particularly in Shakespeare, including Hamlet, Richard III and Macbeth. According to IMDB, he appeared in 161 acting roles on film and TV in his long career. He even appeared in a Disney movie, their 1950 rendition of Treasure Island.

Old King Cole

Old King Cole

Dion Boucicault

It was particularly pleasing to come across cartoons of Dion Boucicault as I catalogued, as we hold a Boucicault Collection here at Kent. These are two different Dion Boucicaults, our collection being about the father of the man in the cartoons. This is quite confusing, and completely unnecessary, as in reality the two of them had completely different names! Whilst he was known as an actor, he was also a theatre manager, and had particular success with the premiere of a little known play, one Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. It was Dion’s sister, Nina Boucicault, who was the first actress to ever play Peter Pan.

Nina Boucicault (Sister of Dion Jr.)

Nina Boucicault (Sister of Dion Jr.)

Dion Boucicault Jr. (centre)

Dion Boucicault Jr. (centre)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donald Calthrop

Number two of three I’ve found related to collections we hold. It was the first Dion Boucicault’s great-grandson, another Calthrop, who donated some of our Boucicault material. Donald Calthrop was Boucicault’s nephew, and a significant actor in his own right. He appeared in no less than five early films directed by the great Alfred Hitchcock. Sadly, he died of a heart attack before he finished filming Major Barbara in 1941.

Donald Calthrop

Donald Calthrop

Frank Pettingell

And here’s the third. Frank Pettingell was the owner of our largest collection of playscript, both printed and manuscript, and he in his turn acquired them from the son of well-known comedy Arthur Williams, whose stamp can be seen on most of the items in the collection. Frank was a Lancashire man who served in the First World War. His film credits include the original version of Gaslight, and played the Bishop of York in the film Becket, which featured Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole and John Gielgud.

Frank Pettingell, taking a trip

Frank Pettingell, taking a trip

Princess Lilian, Duchess of Halland

Grace Kelly may be well known for marrying European Royalty, but she was not only one! Lilian Davies, an actress more known for her modelling, from Swansea, married into the Swedish royal family in 1976 at the age of 61. They’d been living together for almost 30 years after she and her first husband divorced, but did not marry as it was thought Prince Bertil may have to become Regent after the heir to throne died, leaving a son only a few months old. However, Carl XVI came of age before he came to the throne, and he approved Prince Bertil’s marriage to Lilian. She lived to be 97, and continued to attend official engagements well into her 90s.

A most impressive hat

A most impressive hat

Rachel.

Women on Stage and in Society : 1850 – 1915

part of the British Theatre History exhibition

part of the British Theatre History exhibition

On Wednesday 6th April the yearly exhibition by second year students of the British Theatre History module launched. Whilst this has been an annual event for several years, this time the students faced a bigger challenge than ever: the size of the Templeman exhibition space. This is only the second exhibition to be held in the new space, and asking first time exhibition makers to fill it was initially concerning, but the students rose to the challenge admirably.

Playbill for Society at the Prince of Wales

Playbill for Society at the Prince of Wales, currently on display

This module offers students the opportunity to learn about a hugely varied period of theatre history in Britain, ranging from Victorian pantomime through to suffragette plays. What’s unique about this module in particular, is that the student use Special Collections and Archives material to really come to terms with the time period, utilising Kent’s extensive Victorian and Edwardian theatre collections. The students look at a range of original material, such as playbills, play-scripts and theatre documentation, to learn about this exciting time.

The British Theatre History student exhibition

A section about living as an actress

This year was different than previously in other ways too. Firstly, the students usually work in groups to produce sections of a general exhibition on British theatre history. This time,

The exhibition launch

The exhibition launch

however, the students were challenged to work individually, and they did not disappoint! The other difference is that this time the students worked on a very specific theme: women. Within this theme the students looked at gender roles in pantomime, the representation of women in melodrama, influential female playwrights, theatre managers and actresses, and theatrical women as a political force. The result is a very well rounded, coherent exhibition, which catches the eye and the interest of passers-by.

Dick Whittington from the Melville Collection

Dick Whittington from the Melville Collection

 

The module draws heavily from theatre collections housed here at Kent. Firstly, the Melville Collection, which tells the story of a theatrical dynasty of actors and theatre managers. The Melville’s owned many theatres around the country, but particularly the Lyceum in London, from which we hold music, takings books, and administrative documentation concerning productions put on there, as well as publicity material and scripts.

A lithograph showing a scene from the Octoroon

A lithograph showing a scene from the Octoroon

 

 

Secondly, the students use the Boucicault Collections. Dion Boucicault was a playwright and actor who worked both here and in America in the 19th century. He was particularly well known for his melodramas, most famously the Octoroon, a controversial play concerning race and slavery. One student has produced a detailed section concerning this play.

Photograph of Nellie Farren, from the Milbourne scrapbook

Photograph of Nellie Farren, from the Milbourne scrapbook

 

 

Many of the students use sections from the Milbourne scrapbook. This scrapbook contains photographs (and some signatures) of famous actors and actresses of the time period, and also accurate depictions of costumes worn in theatrical productions. The costume images were originally black and white, but the scrapbook’s owner attended the productions featured in it, and faithfully coloured in the images to represent what was being worn on the stage.

 

Pettingell scrapbook, currently on display

Pettingell scrapbook, currently on display

Finally the students used our Pettingell Collection. Frank Pettingell was an English actor in the 20th century. He obtained the collection from Arthur Williams, who was an actor and playwright in the 19th century. The collection is made up of a huge selection of printed and handwritten play scripts, many of which were used as performance prompt copies. There are also a handful of theatrical scrapbooks in the collection, one of which is on display.

 

The exhibition is up until the 25th April.

Update: The Canadian Connection to Our Tenacious Escapee

One of the exciting aspects of writing blogs using our collections is people getting in touch as a result of what you’ve written. Way back in August 2015 I wrote a post about Egbert Brosig, a German prisoner of war in Canada during the Second World War, and his many attempted escapes. Shortly afterwards I received an email from a lady in Canada who had more information on Brosig, and who had been searching for further information about him for some time.

A view of the Monteith Prison Camp, taken by the father-in-law of our contact

A view of the Monteith Prison Camp, taken by the father-in-law of our contact

This lady’s father-in-law was a dental assistant in the Monteith camp where Brosig worked in the dental department. As I mentioned last time, Brosig was selected as having some of the best English of the prisoners, and so translated for the dentist when he was treating them. The two men apparently got along quite well, and the family own a small wooden cigarette box carved by Brosig and possibly either given as a gift for helping Brosig improve his English, or sold to help raise money for his many escape attempts. Her father-in-law was deployed overseas around the time that Brosig was moved to the Medicine Hat prison camp.

IMG_1901

The front of the cigarette box carved by Brosig, featuring a soldier surrounded by barbed wire and the word ‘Canada’

The back of the cigarette box carved by Brosig with his initials

The back of the cigarette box carved by Brosig with his initials

 

Her mother-in-law was the daughter of the owner of Monteith Post Office and General Store, and it was either her brother or her father who assisted Brosig onto the mail train hidden in a mail bag, during one of the escape attempts described in the last post. The official story, reported through the family is that it was her father, but it has been recorded through other sources that it was her 14 year old brother. It seems likely the father claimed it was him to prevent his son getting in trouble with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

The wedding of our contact's parents-in-law, outside the General Store in Monteith

The wedding of our contact’s parents-in-law, outside the General Store in Monteith

We were also sent this wonderful photograph of the wedding between the lady’s parents-in-law in 1943, just before he was deployed abroad and Brosig sent to Medicine Hat. This image shows the happy couple outside the Monteith general store.

The woman who emailed us was able to shed light on some other aspects of his life. After the war and his return to Germany, Brosig worked as a translator for the American government for 10 years. As with many young men at the outbreak of World War 2, he had been forced to join the German army with the onset of war, and did not join of his own volition. He lived until the age of 90, dying only a few years ago.

For those of you who missed the first post, give it a read here: https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/specialcollections/2015/08/20/a-tenacious-escapee.

Rachel Dickinson.

 

Going on a Summer Holiday? 11: an unexpected discovery

By the spring of 1823, William Harris Junior had experienced adventure, excitement and astonishment as he journeyed through Europe on a late version of the Grand Tour, extending his architectural studies. He and his small band of architects, gathered en route, had hoped to travel to Greece to take in the antiquities there, but the continent was hardly a tranquil place in the aftermath of Napoeonic War and Greece was out of bounds. Because of this, Harris and his remaining friends journeyed next to Sicily, and on the 1st February 1823, William wrote to his father from Selinunte. This detour, however, was no disadvantage, as he explained to his father;

“The antiquities of Sicily are generally passed over much too hastily by professional men but the reason is perhaps that they mostly travel here after having visited Greece where the remains are undoubtedly of a higher class.”

Indeed, William considered it best to have visited Sicily first, believing that the studies he made there would shorten the time it was necessary for him to spend in Greece.

Image of an early 19th century map of Regent's Park and surrounds, London.

The pleasant surroundings of Norton Street (far right) were a contrast to William’s accomodation on his travels.

In spite of the excitement of the journey thus far, and the strange and intriguing practices which William had experienced since leaving London in 1821, he still found life on the road a challenge. His father lived in the fashionable area of Norton Place (modern day Bolsover Street) in London, while William was appalled to hear that his sister and her family were having to move out of the capital. During his journey, however, William had to make do with what accommodation he could find; one night on the road, the small group were forced to “sleep on mattresses only in an uninhabited palace”. On 16th December, William and his friends stayed in the Ducal palace of Castel Vetrano, “but I can assure you we have not been worse off in Sicily than on the night of our arrival”.

 

“There was no kind of inn in the town and all the accommodation the palace afforded was wretched mattresses, damp and dirty, and this on a cold winter’s night. I preferred lying down in my cloak”

The gentlemen had better luck the following evening, however, when a local man known to Mr Ingham, an English merchant they had met on the road, provide bedding to lessen the austerity of the ducal quarters.

Elsewhere, they enjoyed better hospitality; amused “by the contrast between Sicilian and English manners”, William related their attendance at a ‘conversasione’ at Castel Ternisi, with a friend of Ingham’s:

“Ladies are rarely present at these parties, the Sicilians being of a very jealous turn and in this instance their places were supplied by a row of colored French portraits of the Beauties of different nations arranged around the walls. Several of the party wore white nightcaps among others an old Sicilian Baron but this practice is very general in Sicily.”

William had a habit of discovering friends on his travels. By the time of this letter, he was still in company with Mr Brooks, with whom he had travelled since France (the gentleman had turned up late at Calais), Thomas Angell and Mr Atkinson. In addition to Ingham, the group travelled from Gingenti with a Sicilian lawyer, who “afforded us some amusement on the road”. A “very timid horseman”, this lawyer got into difficulties when fording a river:

“he allowed his beast to lie down…skipping from his back [to a stone in the river]…. The animal no sooner found himself at liberty than he began to roll and completely bathed the saddle bags while the poor man hardly thinking himself safe on his little island desperately waded to shore.”

Harris and his friends, now seasoned travellers, were evidently highly amused by this escapade.

The front of William's letter from Selinunte

As with previous letters, William crammed as much writing as he could onto one sheet of paper.

Even this far into the journey, after exploring the Mer de Glace of Mont Blanc and scaling Mount Etna, William still found new sights awe inspiring:

“About an hour before arriving at Palermo the heights command a fine view of the rich plains in which the city is built. A Theatre of mountains encircles it which running out into the sea form the two points of the Bay. The promenade at Palermo extends nearly a mile along the seaside. It surpasses even that of Naples and is by far the finest I have ever seen.”

Although the stay in Palermo proved short, William evidently liked the town, which abounded with convents and monasteries, many of which he described as occupying the upper stories on buildings, with shops on the lower floor. With palaces, Public Gardens and a fine promenade for both walking and driving, Palermo would have been a comfortable holiday destination, but William and his friends were seeking more adventure. Once they had their supplies, they set off for Segista: William and Atkinson on foot.

It was by damp, newly ploughed ground, that they found their way to Trapani, a town he described as ‘very singular being nearly surrounded by the sea’. It had, William added, ‘the appearance of an encampment’, due to its pyramids of salt heaped around its environment. The salt trade served William and his friends well, as one of its key merchants, a Mr Woodhouse, “received us in the most hearty manner”.

Image of quotation extract from the letter.However, it was the ruins of ancient Selinus which had been the object of all this travel, a site which William explained comprised six temples: three on one hill and three on another. The original plan had been to lodge in Castel Vetrano and journey to study the site each day, but the architects’ enthusiasm soon made them begrudge the amount of time they had to spend travelling to and from their studies. With the permission of the Cavaliere, they thus moved into a small house ‘within a stone’s throw from the temple’. It was largely unfurnished, but the Cavaliere permitted the architects to take furniture from Vetrano, and the gentlemen soon took on a cook and a servant, one to take care of the house and the other to visit the market at Castel Vetrano each day. This, William explained, enabled the gentlemen to ‘employ all our day light to the most advantage’.

These quarters were ‘not so comfortless as we expected’, perhaps in part due to their experiences thus far on their travels. In any case, William explained to his father in London, although the windows had only shuttered, having never been glazed, the Sicilian weather made this quite bearable. “By this you may see how totally different is the climate of Sicily from that of our foggy atmosphere.” And in any case, the location enabled the William, his friend Angell and the rest, to make some exciting discoveries.

According to William, there was some material published on three of the temples by an architect named Wilkins ‘who formally lived in New Cavendish Street’, but this was ‘full of errors’. The rest, nearest to the sea shore (one no more than ¼ mile from it) had, Harris stated, ‘never been published at all certainly not in England’. This, then, was an exciting opportunity for the young architects.

Ground plan of three temples (O, C and D) on the Western Hill at Selinunte

Ground plan of three temples (O, C and D) on the Western Hill at Selinunte, drawn by William Harris. From the British Museum Collections.

“They are all a heap of ruins but all the points may be form[e]d or nearly so with a little trouble. By the help of a little excavation we have able to form (I hope) tolerably correct ideas of their plans and proportions. The advantage of being on the spot has perhaps never been possessed by any travellers before.”

 

In closing the letter, William detailed the architects’ plans for the following months, begging his father for an extension to his trip – adding that Angell had already received just such a dispensation from his father. He explained: “a year’s study at the end of a tour is certainly more valuable than two at its commencement”. There was still much, after all, to see: Naples, Pompeii, Herculaneum and, he still hoped, Greece. Harris intended to begin his homeward journey in the spring of 1824, via the Venetian States, to arrive in London at the end of June. By then, he would have been away from home for 3 years, and have experienced much on his journey. But these plans were never to come to fruition. In the excavations at Selinus, Harris and Angell discovered far more than they ever bargained for, and their youthful enthusiasm would result in a rather sudden journey home for just one of the pair: the other would never return to London.

In a postscript, William adds the note “I am really sorry to hear you have lost poor Dick” – this was the horse whose illness had provoked much comment in previous correspondence between father and son. Having been lamed but undergone an operation, it seemed that Dick had never recovered. William noted: “he was an excellent animal and I fear you will with difficulty find one to suit your purpose so well”.

Recently, there’s been an exciting development in this tale: drawings by Harris and Angell, deposited at the British Museum are now being catalogued and digitised. I hope you’re as excited as me about this: you can see more on the BM’s Collection Online pages.

An intriguing precedent

As you might expect, there are all sorts of unexpected and intriguing materials held in Special Collections. What you might not expect, is that we don’t often have the time or opportunity to delve into them in as much detail as we might like to. This post is the tale of one of those intriguing items, and how I finally got to explore it!

Spine of the item, reading 'Selection of Precedents'The book itself is rather unassuming: in a plain, half leather binding, with gilt edging and title which reads ‘Selection of Precedents’. Inside, it’s rather more interesting, with manuscript list, contents and index in a late eighteenth or early nineteenth century hand. So far, you might think, so archival, and I must admit to not having much expertise in legal history, with which this tome is so heavily concerned: ‘precedents’, in this case, referring to the legal sense. Something else, however, caught my eye: amongst the names listed on the first few pages, beneath their respective kings, are some key players in medieval politics including Hugh Despenser, Alice Perrers and Thomas Monatcute, the Earl of Salisbury.

Book plate for the volumeThough I knew this item was interesting, it wasn’t until we looked at cataloguing it that we really began to look at it in more depth. As I sat with Rachel, looking at the provenance suggested by the unusual bookplate (a Knight of the Garter, and most likely a Scottish earl), my enthusiasm for all things medieval got the better of me. With Rachel’s background in Classics, we thought that it might be best for me to take a look through, to find out just what this book was!

Initially, I was intrigued to see the name William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, under the reign of Henry VI. If you didn’t know, Henry VI proved a rather ineffectual king, and became overly reliant on various favourites. One such unlucky favourite was de la Pole, who successfully negotiated a Henry’s marriage to Margaret of Anjou, but ended up ceding the regions of Maine and Anjou back to France in return, after they had been conquered by the English during the Hundred Years’ War. This made Suffolk hugely unpopular with the Commons (both in Parliament and in the wider country) and so, according to the Selection of Precedents, he demanded that the ‘infamous charges rumoured against him’ should be openly exhibited, so that he could offer a defence. What followed was wrangling between Lords and Commons, and between rivals: although the Commons did eventually impeach the Duke, the king refused to have him executed and instead banished him. According to the Selection of Precedents, the Commons launched a protest as soon as the new Parliament opened in 1451, demanding that the Judgement of Attainder should stand. Their only slight obstacle was the fact that Suffolk was already dead. A laconic note adds:

N.B. Between the time of his banishment and of the above petition, the Duke was murdered

In fact, he took a ship to France but was met en route by ‘pirates’ (although many English gentlemen and soldiers were at this time engaged in piracy as warfare against France) and beheaded. His body washed up on the beach at Dover shortly afterwards.

Details of Thomas de Berkeley's caseWith my interest piqued by this sorry tale, I have been spending time looking through other cases detailed. On such details the complaints of Edward III’s mistress, Alice Perrers, about her loss of land and liberty, towards the end of Edward’s reign, and the beginning of Richard II’s. Thomas de Berkeley was examined in 1330 on suspicion of the murder of Edward II; although cleared of committing the crime himself, he was considered culpable since the king was in his custody at the time. In the reign of that unfortunate Edward II, Hugh Despenser came to Parliament to claim lands from the deceased Earl of Gloucester and Hereford, by right of his wife. In terms which would have been headline news in the later Victorian law courts, the debate was whether the Earl’s wife had been pregnant when the Earl had died: if not, and the child was illegitimate, then Despenser stood to gain. Other cases detail extortion, treason and pardons of the basis of having been impeached ‘by the hatred of his neighbours’, in one Hugh Fastolf’s case. Following this case, in 1376, the Commons requested that the king should not pardon anyone impeached in that Parliament, ominously identifying ‘any one great or small who have been of his privy Council’. The king in question was Edward III, identified by many as the greatest medieval monarch. His answer rather sums up the relationship between the king, justice and the Commons at this point:

The King will do as shall seem best to him

Later, following the Civil War and Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, members of the Commons were once again pondering the power of the king to pardon or intervene in legal matters. By that stage, Parliament was a far more powerful force than it had been three centuries earlier, and there was concern that any judgements could effectively be halted and the accused set free by the prorogation or closing of that Parliament by the king. This would protect the king’s favourites and, far from Edward III’s motto of doing as he saw best, the idea was no longer acceptable to the Early Modern Commons.

Opening list of casesThe Selection of Precedents records that in 1673, under Charles II, a Committee reported:

…“That businesses depending in one Parliament or Session of Parliament have been continued to the next session of the same Parliament, and the proceedings thereupon have remained in the same state in which they were left when last in agitation

This meant that no-one would be set free or allowed to enjoy assetts removed while under judgement even between Parliaments; it removed from the king the power to halt such proceedings. Of course, this was not the end of the matter. New cases came forward over the years and during the reigns of successive monarchs. In 1791, the Lords were again debating this issue, pointing out that laws did not lapse between Parliaments, and questioning why judgements be any different.

In each of these debates, according to British law, precedents were sought to bolster the cause for the contiuation or cessation of judicial proceedings between Parliaments. Drawn from the Parliamentary Rolls and the Journal of the House of Lords, the accounts in this Selection of Precedents are just such an excercise: detailing cases which continued between Parliaments from the reign of Edward I, right up until that of George I and the impeachment of the Earls of Oxford and Mortimer for high treason.

Annotations on the precedents in red inkIt is not clear why this book was put together: its extracts evidently come from learned sources, and the notes in red on some verso pages comment on the proceedings with an expert knowledge. In the case of Salisbury and Peterborough, in 1690, the commentator writes:

The report in this case is in several instances inaccurate and unintelligable – and untrue

I haven’t yet got to the bottom of this mystery, and it would probably take someone more expert in legal history than I am to give a full account of this item. But I like to think that this books was part of a gentleman’s legal training, looking into precedents and commenting upon the processes used in the arguments. Stretching to 73 handwritten pages, it would have been a considerable undertaking and the care taken in rebinding the pages suggest that it was a valued item. Although the content may be duplicated elsewhere, in official government sources, perhaps the owner treasured this volume for the study he remembered and the enjoyment in his meticulous research.

Perhaps he even enjoyed putting it together as much as I have enjoyed reading it!