Posts Tagged ‘Charles Dickens’


Blanche Owen, English music hall and concert singer

March 31, 2015

Blanche Owen (active 1870-1875), English music hall and concert singer
(lithograph flyer, 1872)

‘Mr. Alexander McDonald.
‘A successful and very interesting entertainment was given on Monday evening by Mr. Alexander McDonald, at the Spread Eagle Assembly Rooms, Wandsworth [south west London]. Mr. McDonald is one of the many who have recently adopted the profession of a public reader, and at the same time he is one of the very few who can approach Mr. Charles Dickens or Mr. Bellew either in voice or in the rendering of the works of great authors. His longest as well as his shortest ”reading” is committed to memory, and is delivered without nots or reference, word for word, as it is found in the book; with action suited to the word, and word to the action. His voice is powerful, flexible, and of very pleasing quality. Every word is distinctly heard, the softest utterance or the fullest exhibition of passion and energy being equally seized by the most distant among the audience. We have hear Mr. McDonald declaim the selection from Nicholas Nickleby with remarkable intelligence and force; but on Monday evening his selections were of the humorous type, including the ”Election for Beadle” (by Dickens), ”Pyramus and Thisbe,””Blind-man’s Buff,” and ”A Norrible Tale” (by E.L. Blanchard). The audience was kept in full laughter throughout. The entertainment is very agreeably varied by the introduction of some ballads by Professional singers. Miss Blanche Owen, a very pretty lady with a ringing soprano voice, and a marvellous set of teeth, made an impression upon the audience generally, and upon the writer particularly. This was not the case with a young gentleman who sung Kucken’s ”O’er vale and mountain,” and who was specially described in the programme as a ”tenor.” The gentleman who presided at the piano played very cleverly, and, besides, contributed to the merriment of the evening by a quaint manner of walking on and off the stage.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 6 March 1870, p. 5c)

‘Beaumont Institution, Mile-End [London].
‘The annual entertainment in aid of the funds of the Horn of Plenty Philanthropic Society took place at the above Institution on Tuesday evening last [21 February 1871]. The objects of the Society are in every respect praiseworthy, and by means of these entertainments some thirty or forty pounds are annually raised and expended in bread, coals, &c., among the poor of the district. The proceedings, which were of a miscellaneous character, commenced with a pianoforte selection by Mr. C. Solomon, after which the Pickwick Histrionic Club appeared in [J. Maddison] Morton’s comic drama, produced last spring [21 April 1870] at the Royalty Theatre [London], entitled Little Mother… . The chief feature of the performance was the Kitty Clark, or Little Mother, of Miss Alice Vincent. The acting of this talented young lady was in every respect praiseworthy, and the style in which she ”lectured” the old dentist, spurned his gift, and thrust him from her door, elicited loud laughter and well-deserved applause. Miss Blanche Owen as Fanny, whose amatory relations with Christopher form the basis of the plot, acted with pleasing intelligence; and on the fall of the curtain the whole of the performers were enthusiastically cheered. Miss Blanche Owen afterwards appeared and sang ”The Watch on the Rhine” and ”The Marseillaise.” In the latter she carried the tri-colour and wore a crape scarf. Her singing was much admired, but why two verses of ”The Marseillaise” were given in English and one in French we were unable to learn …’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 26 February 1871, p. 12a)

‘ROYAL SURREY GARDENS [London]. – Mr. F. Strange has engaged Mr. Howard Paul and a talented concert and entertainment party to appear next week in a series of amusing impersonations, all of which will be given in costume. Mr. Howard Paul ranks among the best of those who ”sing a song and tell a story” on the stage, and the artistes who assist him, Miss Laura Joyce, Miss Blanche Owen, and Miss Nelly Ford, come well endorsed as young and talented aspirants to public favour.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 2 June 1872, p. 12a)

‘MUSIC HALL SURREY STREET. [Sheffield, Yorkshire]
‘In Magnificent Costumes.
‘In Six Songs and Impersonations, including a Lecture on Woman’s Rights.
‘In Six Songs and Impersonations, including ”TONY TOPPER, THE NEWS BOY.”
‘The Most Accomplished Little Pianist in the World.
‘In his latest and greatest hit, ”I am so Volatile.”
‘Doors Open at Half-past Seven; commence at Eight. Carriages at Ten.
‘Front Seats (Reserved), 2s.; Second Seats, 1s.; Gallery and Back of Room, 6d.
‘Tickets may be had and places secured at Mr. FREEMANILL’S Music Warehouse, High street.’
(The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent, Sheffield, Yorkshire, Monday, 7 October 1872, p. 1a, advertisement)

The Marylebone music hall, London
‘… Miss Blanche Owen, who is here, is new to us. She has a pleasing, winsome manner, and sings with ease and distinctness. The strains which she rendered in our hearing were ”While the sun is shining always make your hay,” ”Good-bye, Charley,” and another.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 2 November 1872, p. 4c)


Maud Middleton, the ‘comely chambermaid’ of the Great White Horse in James Albery’s dramatization of Dicken’s Pickwick Papers, Lyceum Theatre, London, 1871

July 13, 2014

Maud Middleton (active 1871/72), English actress, at about the time of her appearance as ‘the comely chambermaid’ of the Great White Horse in James Albery’s dramatization of Charles Dickens’s Pickwick Papers, produced at the Lyceum Theatre, London, on 23 October 1871.
(carte de visite photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, early 1870s)

Pickwick, Lyceum Theatre, 1871
‘… But of characters, male and female, there are so many that it is impossible to enumerate them. When we mention among the ladies the names of Miss Marion Hill, Miss Minnie Sidney, Miss Kate Manor, and Miss Maude [sic] Middleton, we are not even half-way through the list of beauties… .’
(The Standard, London, Wednesday, 25 October 1871, p. 3d)


July 13, 2014

Maud Middleton (active 1871/72), English actress, at about the time of her appearance as ‘the comely chambermaid’ of the Great White Horse in James Albery’s dramatization of Charles Dickens’s Pickwick Papers, produced at the Lyceum Theatre, London, on 23 October 1871.
(carte de visite photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, early 1870s)

Pickwick, Lyceum Theatre, 1871
’… But of characters, male and female, there are so many that it is impossible to enumerate them. When we mention among the ladies the names of Miss Marion Hill, Miss Minnie Sidney, Miss Kate Manor, and Miss Maude [sic] Middleton, we are not even half-way through the list of beauties… .’
(The Standard, London, Wednesday, 25 October 1871, p. 3d)


Constance Collier and Herbert Beerbohm Tree in Oliver Twist, His Majesty’s Theatre, London, 1905

October 1, 2013

Constance Collier (1878-1955), English actress, and Herbert Beerbohm Tree (1852-1917), English actor manager, as they appeared as Nancy and Fagin in Tree’s production of Oliver Twist, adapted from Charles Dickens’s novel by Comyns Carr and first presented at His Majesty’s Theatre, London, on 10 July 1905.
(photo: F.W. Burford, London, 1905; postcard no. 354.G published by J. Beagles & Co, London, 1905)

‘Mr. Tree has been as good as his word. Saying good-bye for the summer on July 10 [1905], he expressed his satisfaction with the launch of Oliver Twist, and promised a prolonged revival for September 4. On that evening the favourable verdict of the former first-night tribunal was not only confirmed, but it is said that the reception beats all records of His Majesty’s Theatre. In our issue of July 16 the artistic merits of the case have been fully discussed, and while due praise was given to the adapter for his skill, a note of protest was sounded against the very painful and over-emphasised scene of Nancy’s murder and the prominence given to the character of Fagin. I see that in other papers some critics and some voices from the public have joined chorus in the objection to the murder episode, and it is to be hoped that something will be done to tone down the gruesome effect. Whether Oliver Twist be a good play or not, it is bound to attract all who have read and still love their Dickens, and for this reason in particular it would be desirable not to dwell upon the gruesome side of the story. Under all circumstances there is enough of the sensational in the play, and some consideration should be shown to the nerves of the weaker sex. With Mr. Tree in his versatile performance of Fagin, and the remarkable impersonations of Miss Constance Collier as Nancy and Mr. Lyn Harding as Bill Sykes, the acting alone is well worth a visit to the theatre… .
(J.T. Grein, Sunday Times, London, Sunday, 10 September 1905, p. 2c)


Miss Amalia sings ‘Dolly Varden,’ early 1870s

September 5, 2013

Miss Amalia (1859-1911), English actress, singer and dancer, as she appeared in the early 1870s singing G.W. Hunt’s song, ‘Dolly Varden,’ which was inspired by the character of that name in Dickens’s novel, Barnaby Rudge.
(carte de visite photo: G.J. Tear, 12 Clapham Road, London, SW, probably 1871)

Amalia, usually billed as Mdlle. Amalia or Miss Amalia, was one of the daughters of Scipion Brizzi (1835?-1899), a commercial traveller and sometime clerk to a parliamentary agent, and his wife Annie (née Michael), who were married in London in 1856. Miss Amalia’s daughter, Ethel Constance Brizzi, who was born in 1882, married in May 1911 at St. George’s, Hanover Square, Thomas Robinson Stavers (1877-1957). She died in 1940.

* * * * *

‘Mr. G.W. Hunt, the popular composer of comic songs, has just written a new and original song for Mdlle. Amalia, entitled ”Dolly Varden,”’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 8 October 1871, p. 9d)

‘MDLLE. AMALIA, the Celebrated Juvenile Burlesque Actress, Vocalist, Pianiste and Danseuse, OXFORD THEATRE OF VARIETIES, BRIGHTON, To-morrow, Twelve Nights. Metropolitan, London (Six Weeks) to follow. Royal Princess’s Theatre, Christmas. Niblo’s Garden, New York, next August. Sole Agents, Messrs. Parravicini and Corbyn. ”Dolly Varden” (Copyright) will shortly be published.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 29 October 1871, p. 16a)

Metropolitan music hall, London, November 1871
‘Miss Amalia, who is a new comer here, is in great favour. She looks a bewitching little woman as ”Dolly Varden,” and as a smart Prince causes much amusement by singing of ”Promenading the Spa,” imitating Mr. George Leybourne’s manner of rendering the strain ”After the Opera is over,” and by other clever vocal efforts. As usual, she dances excellently and charmingly.”
(The Era, London, Sunday, 19 November 1871, p. 12c)

‘NEW MUSIC … Dolly Varden, By G.W. Hunt… . Dolly Varden, founded upon a pretty waltz melody has already become very popular, and, together with Amalia’s comical singing, is found wonderfully attractive just now. Many other singers are also adopting the air in the various Music Halls.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 14 January 1872, p. 4c)

The East London music hall, week beginning Monday, 3 November 1873
‘Miss Amalia, whose good looks and ability increase with her years, on the evening of our visit appeared first as a pretty little ”Dolly Varden,” and secondly in the garb of a bewitching representative of that honest-hearted race over whose lives a sweet little cherub has been specially appointed ”up aloft” to keep watch. She not only sang well, but danced in a style which somewhat astonished us. She, too, retired amid well-merited marks of approbation.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 9 November 1873, p. 11c)

* * * * *

‘AMALIA, MISS, burlesque actress, made her début on the London state at the Surrey Theatre, December 26, 1869, in the pantomime of St. George and the Dragon. She subsequently played in other pantomimes, securing, conjointly with Miss Violet Cameron, the full honours of the evening on December 27, 1873, at Drury Lane Theatre, ”for her acting and singing in a ballad called ‘Buttercup Green,”’ introduced into the burlesque opening. More recently Miss Amalia has been engaged at the Gaiety, and has played in many of the extravaganzas of Mr. Byron on which that theatre mainly, and for the most part profitably relies as its principal attraction.’
Charles E. Pascoe, editor, The Dramatic List. A Record of the Performances of Living Actors and Actresses of the British Stage, London, 1880, p. 3)


Amy Sedgwick as Sergeant Buzfuz

June 21, 2013

Amy Sedgwick (1835-1897), English actress, in character as Sergeant Buzfuz
(carte de visite photo: Robert W. Thrupp, 66 New Street, Birmingham, early 1870s)

‘Miss AMY SEDGWICK’S Dramatic Recital.
‘The Dramatic Recital given gratuitously in aid of the suffering French on Monday, at Exeter Hall, was worthy of all who ”assisted,” and deserved a far greater patronage than it received. A choir of seven hundred voices, conducted by Mr. G.W. Martin, filled the vast orchestra, and sang a ”Hymn of Peace” (composed by Mr. Martin), a ”French War Song,” and ”Rule Britannia,” with much vigour and effect. Their greatest achievement was, however, ”The Marseillaise,” which, being declaimed with extraordinary power, was encored, and repeated with cheers and shouts from all parts of the Hall. Indeed, sympathy for the French could hardly have been expressed with greater vehemence if the scene had been the Alhambra instead of Exeter Hall. But our chief business is with Miss Sedgwick, and, greatly as that lady has delighted us many a time and oft, we never remember her to have produced a more legitimate effect than upon this occasion. Beginning with scenes from Romeo and Juliet, Miss Sedgwick charmed all hearers by the exquisite expression she gave to the impassioned language of the hero, and the tenderness of the heroine, making us feel at every moment what a loss it is to the stage that the lady should be absent from the boards of one of our chief Theatres… .
‘The entertainment concluded with the amusing and laughable speech of Sergeant Buzfuz. Miss Sedgwick was attired in the usual costume of the bar, wig, gown, and bands complete, and to see her occasionally tugging at the gown and adjusting the wig after the manner familiar to us in the courts of law was drollery itself. The audience began to titter as soon as they saw it. After a few phrases of Sergeant Buzfuz’s wonderful appeal to the Jury they laughed outright, and before the speech was half concluded it was accompanied by a continuous roar of merriment. Anything more successful we have seldom witnessed. At the conclusion the Right Hon. the Lord Mayor, who had kindly presided on the occasion, spoke a few words in a most impressive manner as to Miss Sedgwick’s philanthropy in so generously tendering her gratuitous services,and the goodness of heart she had shown in the hour of need in bestowing all her energies and best efforts in the endeavour to alleviate the sufferings of others. (Applause.)…’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 26 February 1871, p. 11d)


Emily Levettez

May 22, 2013

a carte de visite photograph of Emily Levettez (fl. 1866-1911), actress and dancer, as Prince Can-Can in the pantomime Beauty and the Beast, Royal Theatre, Greenwich, Christmas 1871
(photo: James Clark, Dover, Kent, England, probably 1871)

Emily Levettez, who had a long and varied career, has been noted as appearing in a number of plays, including Streets of London; or, The Real Poor of the World on a tour of the United Kingdom in 1882. She also appeared as the Duchesse de Vervier in J.T. Tanner and Herbert Keen’s The Broken Melody for a single matinee performance at the Opera Comique, London, on 25 October 1894; this production, with Auguste van Biene in the leading role, was toured by him for several thousand performances. In 1902-1903 Miss Levettez was with Nellie Stewart, Harcourt Beatty, Albert Grau and others in Musgrove’s English Comedy Co in a tour of Australasia. Miss Levettez later played the part of Lady Skettles in the stage adaptation of Dickens’s Dombey and Son produced at the Savoy Theatre, London, on 14 June 1911.

* * * * *

The Cabinet Theatre, King’s Cross, London, Thursday, 16 August 1866
‘Mr. A. Lauraine, a well-known Harlequin, an expressive pantomimist, and a graceful dancer, in conjunction with his pupils, Les Petits Levettez, took a benefit here on Thursday night. The entertainments were miscellaneous, and the audience anything but polite… . the real point of interest was a new comic ballet, ”invented by the Costermonger,” and called The Miser. It introduced Master L. Levettez and Miss E. Levettez, who, considering they were on the stage for the first time (we believe), may be said to promise well for the future. The lady, especially, is still very young. The action of the ballet is clear and understandable. Mr. Lauraine plays the Miser, and the Levettez children personate two beggars who come to the miser’s cottage for relief. Finding themselves repulsed they concert a plan of proceeding, and persecute their unfortunate opponents [sic] with great pertinacy. Greengriff bewitches a table so that it opens and lets the bags of money on to the floor. He substitutes blacking for brandy, and thus furnishes Mr. Lauraine with a pretext to introduce a dance expressive of violent internal pains. When east expected Greengriff appears and chastises the parsimonious individual that a bladder and stick as usual. Greengriff is invulnerable, and is vainly shot at by the Miser. A cat is substituted for a shank bone, which the victim intends for his dinner, and he is at length worried into repentance. He meets with forgiveness, and before the curtain falls, Master Levettez dances a hornpipe, Miss Levettez follows with a skipping-rope dance, and Mr. A. Lauraine goes through some of those evolutions peculiar to male professors of the Terpsichorean art. The adult and the juveniles were all enthusiastically called for… .’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 19 August 1866, p. 11d)

According to the 1872 edition of The Era Almanack (p. 32), Emily Levettez’s first official London appearance was as the Duke of York in Richard III, at Sadler’s Wells on 12 November 1867.


Patti Josephs

December 28, 2012

a carte de visite photograph of Patti Josephs (1849?-1876), English actress (photo: Bassano, London, late 1860s)

‘MR CHARLES DICKENS is now well enough to take an active interest in the preparation of David Copperfield at the Olympic Theatre. The piece in its embryo state is exciting unusual interest. Mr [Sam] Emery has been engaged for the character of Peggotty, and Miss Patti Josephs for that of Emily. Mr Dickens is attending the rehearsals of David Copperfield, and Mr Halliday’s adaptation of the story will be produced with the full sanction and active co-operation of the author.’ (The Edinburgh Evening Courant, Edinburgh, Monday, 27 September 1869, p. 8f). Halliday’s adaptation of David Copperfield, entitled Little Em’ly, was produced at the Olympic, London, on 9 October 1869.

‘Miss Patti Josephs, a sister of Fanny Josephs, recently committed suicide by throwing herself from a window. She had been an inmate of the Philadelphia hospital. She was, some years back, at the Olympic and other London theatres, and in America married a Mr. Fitzpatrick.’ (Reynolds’s Newspaper, London, Sunday, 29 October 1876, p. 8b)

‘Death of Miss Patti Josephs.
‘London playgoers will deeply regret to hear of the death of this young and charming actress, who expired at Philadelphia on the 5th of October [1876], under circumstances of an exceedingly painful kind, which will be found detailed below by an American correspondent. Readily may be recalled a bright series of impersonations embodied during the last dozen years at the St. James’s, Olympic, Adelphi, and other Theatres. More especially will Miss Eliza Stuart Patti Josephs be remembered as the representative of Cupid in
Cupid and Psyche at the Olympic, and afterwards at the same Theatre in Mr Halliday’s drama Little Em’ly, where she played Little Em’ly with a prettiness and pathos which won the warmest sympathy of the audience. After this most successful performance Miss Patti Josephs left these shores to fulfil an engagement in America, where she married Mr John Fitzpatrick, an actor well known in this country and much esteemed by all who enjoyed his friendship in America. Scarcely twenty-seven when she died, the young actress has prematurely closed a career which promised brilliant results.
‘Miss Patti Josephs had been confined to her residence for the past eight months with a complication of diseases, and on the evening of the 4th inst. she fell out of the third-story window of the building where she resided, at Eleventh and Locust-streets, Philadelphia, and, striking her head, sustained such severe injuries that she died shortly after being conveyed to the Pennsylvania Hospital. It is believed that, while temporarily insane from pain, she leaned out of the window, and,losing her balance, met with the sad accident that resulted in her death. She came of an old theatrical family, her father, the late Mr W.H. Josephs, having been a Manager of several Theatres in London and the Provinces, while her grandfather had managed a theatrical circuit in England. She was a sister of Mr Harry Josephs, the well-known comedian, and of the late Mr John H. Selwyn. Her sister Fanny is also an actress. Another one of her brothers is a well-known minister in Boston – the Rev. G.C. Lorimer of the Union Temple Church, in that city. Miss Patti Josephs made her first appearance in America at the Chestnut-street Theatre, Philadelphia, on the 14th of October, 1872, in Bronson Howard’s comedy of
Diamonds, and became a member of the stock company at that Theatre. Miss Josephs next played at Fox’s American Theatre, Philadelphia, with Colville’s burlesque troupe, which included Harry Beckett, Willie Edouin, and Eliza Weathersby, and which opened there May 19th, 1873. In December, 1874, Miss Josephs and her husband became members of the stock company at Fox’s American Theatre, where they have remained ever since. She last appeared at Fox’s in The Hidden Hand, about the 21st of February, 1876. The funeral took place on Sunday afternoon, October 8th, and the body was interred at Mount Moriah Cemetery, a large number of members of the dramatic profession attending the funeral.’ (The Era, London, Sunday, 29 October 1876, p. 13c)