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Julia Marlowe

February 10, 2013

Julia Marlowe (1866-1950),
English-born American actress,
as Mary Tudor in When Knighthood Was in Flower,
Criterion Theatre, New York, 14 January 1901,
and Effie Ellsler in the same part on
tour in the United States, September 1902
(photo: unknown, probably New York, 1901)

Julia Marlowe, as dainty, as brilliant and as pretty as ever, is delighting large audiences at the Knickerbocker [sic] theater in the role of Mary Tudor in Paul Kester’s dramatization of Charles Major’s popular novel. When Knighthood Was in Flower. Of Miss Marlowe’s acting nothing but praise can be expressed, and, inasmuch as it is a rather difficult matter to evolve a criticism from a long string of commendatory adjectives, it is better to let it go with the statement that no actress in the world could improve upon Miss Marlowe’s interpretation of the role of the wilful but gentle hearted sister of Henry VIII.
‘Mr. Kester’s dramatization of When Knighthood Was in Flower has been well made, and it would seem that his really brilliant author is at last to receive recognition in dramatic palaces at the doors of which he has hitherto knocked in vain for admission. There are naturally some flaws, not the least of which is a lack of dignity in the treatment of several of the important personages, but nevertheless Mr. Kester’s reputation as a playwright will be greatly enhances by this latest offering of Miss Julia Marlowe.’
‘The cast of When Knighthood Was in Flower, while it cannot justly be called exceptionally bad, is at least not worthy of either star or play. With a couple of exceptions, not a person rose about the most insipid mediocrity. Henry VIII looked like the king of clubs, and his undignified buffoonery did not tent to mitigate the impression created by his appearance. However, the piece is a good one, and that, in combination with the superb work of Miss Marlowe, will be sufficient to insure for it a long life despite the utter commonplaceness of the supporting company.
(The Lincoln Evening News, Lincoln, Nebraska, Saturday, 9 February 1901, p. 3b/c)

‘There is said to be a pronounced educational value in Julia Marlowe’s production of When Knighthood Was in Flower wholly outside that drama’s merits as a play. The costumes reflect the fashions of a time when the House of Tudor and the English court had reached a stage of amazing splendour. They were made after designs obtained from rare plates in the British museum and other treasure houses of English history. The scenery was painted after sketched prepared at Windsor Park, Greenwich Palace and Hampton Court.
‘These sketches were then modified in such a manner as to make the scene reflect as accurately as investigation into books would make possible the appearance of the localities during the opening years of the sixteenth century. Much of the furniture was designed from models now on view in Hampton Court, that vast palace which Thomas Wolsey, who figures in Knighthood, built and presented to Henry VIII., brother of the Princess Mary Tudor, whom Miss [Effie] Ellsler portrays.’
(Waterloo Times-Tribune, Waterloo, Iowa, Tuesday, 23 September 1902, p. 4d)

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