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Sarah Bernhardt in London, 1907, for the publication of her autobiography

August 20, 2013

Sarah Bernhardt (1845-1923), French tragedienne, in London, October/November 1907, for the French season and the publication of her autobiography, My Double Life

Madame Sarah Bernhardt and some of her Company; a group taken at the Royalty Theatre, London, October/November 1907.
left to right: Madame Allisson, M. Richard, M. Gerval, Mdlle. Flori, Madame Cerda, Madame Renée Parny, M. Mathillon, M. Maxudian, Madame Blanche Defrene, Madame Sarah Bernhardt, M. Decœur, Mdlle. Seylor, Madame Boulanger, M. Deneubourg, Madame Due, M. Piron, M. Guide, and M. Bouthors.
(photo: Dover Street Studios, London, 1907)

‘The interest of the playhouse in the feminine has been greatly increased during the week by the publication of My Double Life, the autobiography of Sarah Bernhardt, and the appearance of the lady herself at the Royalty. There has been so little of the mollusc [a reference to the comedy, The Mollusc, Criterion Theatre, London, 15 October 1907] about her that she might have well called it My Sextuple Life, for she has crammed into it enough to fill the lives of half-a-dozen ordinary women. She has dabbled in all the arts and touched the heights of passion in a way that would obsess most other women completely. It is a lively book tingling with sensations, and will interested everybody who cares to come into contact with a personality which feels life – and death for that matter – acutely. Her appearance at the Royalty is the most interesting event of the French season. Mr. Heinemann, who publishes the book (at 15s.) has also issued a cheap single-volume edition of Mr. Bram Stoker’s book on Sir Henry Irving.’
(J.M. Bulloch, The Sphere, London, Saturday, 26 October 1907, p.82b)

Sarah Bernhardt
Madame Bernhardt asleep in her coffin. The celebrated photograph from My Double Life, the memoirs of Sarah Bernhardt, published in London in October 1907 by William Heinemann. (photo: unknown, Paris, 1880s)

‘It was by a curious coincidence that the week which saw the production of Mr. [Roy] Horniman’s play [The Education of Elizabeth, Apollo Theatre, London, 19 October 1907] should also have seen the publication of Madame Bernhardt’s autobiography My Double Life, which gives an extraordinarily vivid impression of the working of the wheels of the real theatrical mind, not so much in a direct way but so far as its entire spirit is concerned. The impression of the book has been heightened by the opportunity of seeing Sarah at the New Royalty, where Mr. Gaston Mayer is conducting a very brilliant French season. Madame Bernhardt, like everybody with a temperament, varies greatly, but of recent years she has seemed really to be getting younger. The mere ability of being able to play such stuff as [Victorien Sardou’s] La Sorcière is extraordinary.’
(The Sphere, London, Saturday, 2 November 1907, p.104c)

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