Posts Tagged ‘Ellen Terry’


Gladys Cooper photographed by H. Goulton May, circa 1904

September 17, 2013

a photograph of Gladys Cooper (1888-1971), English actress, taken when she was about 16 years old
(photo and privately printed postcard: Henry Goulton May, 11 Hill Rise, Richmond-on-Thames, Surrey, circa 1904; this postcard was posted in Richmond on 1 December 1909, the sender having written on the reverse: ‘The sweetest Girl that ever was’)

Gladys Cooper began her acting career in 1905 by which time she was already an experienced photographer’s model; her earliest poses date from about 1894. It is not known how long her association with H. Goulton May lasted, but to judge from the number of images by him of her to have survived it must have been more than fleeting.

Henry Goulton May, one of the children of Benjamin Oliver May (1813/14), a grocer, and his wife, Mary Ann (née England) was born in 1850 at Teignmouth, Devon. The 1871 Census records that he was both an assistant to a grocer (presumably his father) and a bookseller’s assistant. By 1881 he had moved to London where, described as a portrait artist, he was boarding at 12 Wellington Street, Islington. He seems to have turned his attention to photography in the mid 1880s; in 1886 he registered a copyright photograph of Ellen Terry, who was then probably the most famous actress on the English stage, giving his address as 199 St. John’s Street Road, Clerkewell (National Archives).

H. Goulton May moved to 11 Hill Rise, Richmond, Surrey, probably in 1892, the year in which he was married to Annie May Hawkins by whom he eventually had five children. He exhibited work at the Royal Photographic Society’s exhibitions of 1899 and 1900 and for some years his business seems to have flourished. By 1911, however, he had become publican of The Foresters Arms, Redhill, Surrey, and less than two years later, at the time of his death on 3 February 1913, he was publican of the Rose and Crown, Kings Langley, Hertfordshire.


Ellen Terry

April 4, 2013

a carte de visite photograph of the celebrated English actress, Ellen Terry (1847-1928), as Dedsemona to Walter Montgomery’s Othello at the Princess’s Theatre, London, 20 June 1863
(photo: Southwell Brothers, London, 1863)


A.E. Matthews and Irene Vanburgh in Alice Sit-by-the-Fire

December 26, 2012

This real photograph postcard, no. 588 H, published in 1905 in London by J. Beagles & Co, features a scene from J.M. Barrie’s play, Alice Sit-by-the-Fire: A Page from a Daughter’s Diary, with A.E. Matthews as Cosmo Grey and Irene Vanbrugh as Amy Grey, which was produced at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London, on 5 April 1905. (photo: Alfred Ellis & Walery, London, 1905)

‘London, April 8 [1905]. ‘Barrie’s new play, produced at the Duke of York’s last Wednesday, drew a most distinguished audience, which included many prominent and respected American citizens. The play was called by another of Barrie’s peculiar titles – namely, Alice, Sit by the Fire. This time the title was the least inappropriate that the brilliant little native of Thrums has yet vouchsafed. Alice is a middle-aged, but still merry and charming mother, who until the play opens has had to live in India with her colonel-husband, and to send all her babies, one by one, home to England to be reared. The family thus brought up thousands of miles away from her includes a daughter just on the verge of young womanhood; a son, some years younger, but fancying himself too much a man to suffer any kind of parental care, and a baby who is only old enough, when seeing a friendly hand, to “wrestle with it,” as the Luck of Roaring Camp did in dear old Bret Harte’s memorable and lovable story.

‘When Momma Alice arrives in England with her martial but sympathetic husband, she is staggered to find that her gown-up “chicks” regard her with mixed feelings. They have never seen her since they could “take notice,” as fond mammas say. The son shuns her, because of her demonstrative affection to him “before people.” The growing daughter, with her silly head full of five consecutive nights play going, and seeing her mother display some feeling and affection to a young Anglo-Indian male friend of her husband, jumps to the conclusion that the said mother is “in the power” of this young man, as wives so often are in modern plays.

‘The girl, therefore, egged on by a girl friend, who is even more sentimentally silly, goes alone to the young man’s rooms in order to demand the return of the “incriminating letters” which she feels sure her mother must have written “as they always do in plays.” The daughter’s secret visit, of course, involves herself in the supposed mystery. The mother arriving at the “man’s rooms,” presently with her husband detects that her daughter is hiding in a cupboard, and adopts all sort of subterfuges in order to smuggle the girl away before her father is driven to the supposition that his daughter is keeping an “assignation” with the male friend.

‘Confusion becomes still worse confounded before the quaint mystery is cleared up and the curtain finally falls on Mommer Alice resolving to give up all globe-trotting and giddiness and to sit by the fire at home for evermore.

‘The one fault in this otherwise charming and delightful play – at least on the first night – was that Barrie has put in too much dialogue, bright and crisp as that dialogue was. Ellen Terry, whose performance of the perplexed mother was too perfect for words, had such a lot to say after the play had virtually finished that an anticlimax set in. But the piece is (as it deserves to be) a great success. In addition to Ellen Terry’s glorious performance, splendid acting was put in by Irene Vanbrugh as the foolish daughter and Aubrey Smith as the common sense husband.’ (Gawain, The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 22 April 1905, p.7a/b)