A postcard to Miss L. Bussey, a teacher(or pupil?) at Miss Gryll’s Girton House School, Warwick Road Ealing sent on the 25th September 1903 at Matlock Bridge.
A female guest ‘taking the waters’ at Rockside Hydro wrote:
‘Thanks for G.C, tho’ I mourn to say I had him, but never noticed the white tuft before, so am sending a descriptive list of some I have not, – Lewis Waller, ordinary, standing up, Geo. Alexander, ditto position. Albert Chevalier, Arthur Roberts, Seymour Hicks. that’s all I can remember. M.B.’
Is this as racy as it sounds???
A little more digging into the names listed in the postcard yields a tantalising glimpse into the lives of the Edwardian theatrical aristocracy then staying a the fashionable Rockside Hydro.
Albert Chevalier born Albert Onésime Britannicus Gwathveoyd Louis Chevalier (21 March 1861 – 10 July 1923), was an English music hall comedian, singer and musical theatre actor. He specialised in cockney-related humour based on life as a costermonger in London during the Victorian era. Owing to this and his ability to write songs, he became known to his audiences as the costers’ laureate. Together with his brother Charles Ingle he wrote a number of highly successful coster songs to support his act including Wot cher! or Knocked ’em in the Old Kent Road, The Future Mrs. ‘Awkins, ‘Appy ‘Ampstead, and the melodrama My Old Dutch. As well as in London, Chevalier became popular with audiences in the English provinces which he toured over the length of his career. During the 1910s Chevalier moved from comedy into music composition for straight plays.
William Lewis, better known as actor Lewis Waller, married to actress, Florence West, was famous for romantic leads, in Shakespeare and costume drama, and had a vocal fan club of female admirers known as the K.O.W. (Keen On Waller) Brigade. He became actor manager of the Theatre Royal Haymarket in the mid 1890s. Among the roles he created was Sir Robert Chiltern in Oscar Wilde’s comedy of 1895, An Ideal Husband. He was praised by critic Hesketh Pearson for his good looks, his virile acting and his vibrant voice which rang through the theatre like a bell and stirred like a trumpet.
Sir Edward Seymour Hicks (30 January 1871 – 6 April 1949), better known as Seymour Hicks, was a British actor, music hall performer, playwright, screenwriter, actor-manager and producer. He became known, early in his career, for writing, starring in and producing Edwardian musical comedy, often together with his famous wife, Ellaline Terriss. His most famous acting role was that of Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.
He first played the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in 1901 and eventually played it thousands of times onstage. Hicks, along with his wife, joined the producer Charles Frohman in his theatre company and wrote and starred in a series of extraordinarily successful musicals, including Bluebell in Fairyland (1901), Quality Street (1902), The Earl and the Girl (1903) and The Catch of the Season (1904). Hicks used his fortune from these shows to commission the building of the Aldwych Theatre in 1905 and the Hicks Theatre in 1906, opening the latter with a new hit show, The Beauty of Bath. His stage performances were less successful in later years, and he opted instead to star in music hall tours, including Pebbles on the Beach (1912). He continued to write light comedies, the most popular of which was The Happy Day (1916). On film, he first appeared in Scrooge and David Garrick both from 1913. Later notable films included The Lambeth Walk (1939) and Busman’s Honeymoon (1940), and his last film was the year of his death, 1949.
Arthur Roberts (21 September 1852 – 27 February 1933) was an English comedian, music hall entertainer and actor. He was famous for portraying the pantomime dames and later for his comic characters and “gagging” in farces, burlesques and musical comedies. Roberts is credited with originating the word “spoof” which was popularised by a card game that he invented called Spoof, which involved trickery and nonsense. The first recorded reference to the game is in 1884. Soon the word took on the general meaning of “nonsense, trickery,” first recorded in 1889. The verb spoof is first recorded in 1889 as well, in the sense “to deceive.” These senses are now less widely used than the noun meaning of “a light parody or satirical imitation,” first recorded in 1958, and the verb sense “to satirize gently,” first recorded in 1927.
In 1907, Roberts was a leader in the ‘Music Hall War’, striking for better working conditions, which led to the founding of the Variety Artist’s Federation.
But who, I wonder, was the mysterious G.C.???