Friday, October 08, 2010

Sepia Saturday : The Gaiety Girl And The Sixpenny Signature


My picture this week is of the musical comedy actress Marie Studholme who was born in 1872 a few miles away from here in Bradford. She was educated at the Salt Grammar School in Saltaire (see Jennyfreckles' splendid Saltaire Daily Photo Blog for more information about this fascinating World Heritage Site) but eventually moved to London were she went on the stage in 1891. She was signed up by the theatre manager George Edwardes to become one of his "Gaiety Girls" and quickly rose through the ranks of the chorus to take the lead in the 1894 show "A Gaiety Girl" at Daly's Theatre in London. Later she starred in a host of West End stage shows and also worked on Broadway and toured throughout the United States. One of the final performances of her stage career came in 1914 when she returned to her native Bradford in triumph and appeared at the opening of the new Alhambra Theatre. She eventually retired from the stage in 1915 but lived an active retirement until her death in 1930.


Her fame coincided with the height of the picture postcard craze of the first decade of the twentieth century and she became one of the most photographed women of her time. My image of her comes from a postcard which was in the collection of Fowler Beanland. Throughout her life, Marie Studholme was a lover of animals and a keen supporter of animal charities. It is said that she would charge sixpence to sign picture postcards of herself and give the money to a variety of animal charities. As you can see, Great Uncle Fowler was a Yorkshire man through and through, and must have demurred at the thought of paying sixpence for such a signature so got someone with the initials CH (or possibly CN) to sign it instead. But remember, Marie was born and raised in Bradford, so she would have been used to such parsimony.

You don't need to be parsimonious with your Sepia Saturday reading, there are no charges involved. Just pop on over to the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the links.

16 comments:

  1. I am always fascinated by these kinds of photographs and half-way expect you or something to post my picture, unbeknown to me – the photo.

    It is sort of like having a sweet tooth and you remember it each time you eat anything sweet.

    These kinds of pictures are like the candy and touch off the sweet tooth for me. Like I must have lived back then and had more than a clean pair of shoes and a night shirt like I got today.

    Nice post. Enjoyed it as I usually do.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great minds think alike ... I too featured a postcard of Miss Marie Studholme on my blog earlier in the week in my vintage postcards of actresses posting. Thanks for the historical background.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a magnificent postcard! She was a handsome woman and it's no surprise she ended up on the stage.


    Did I tell you I'm now watching "Emmerdale"? I think of you as I watch because I know it takes place in the vicinity of where you are, does it not?

    I'm so pleased to finally be back in Sepia Saturday. Things have settled a bit, but we're still contending with three transitions: house/apartment and new home, so it's a crazy time.

    Hope you're enjoying your time away!

    Kat

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a fascinating tale of Ms Studholme. And posing, whilst sat on a hammock, must have been quite difficult.

    ReplyDelete
  5. There were so many postcards of her; it truly was a craze. I have seen lots of the cards, but never this one. I posted one some time ago too. She was an amazing phenomenon.

    ReplyDelete
  6. That handwriting is amazing. Copperplate. I wish people wrote like that nowadays.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Did she retire to marriage and family or was she a single girl all her life? A life on the stage must have seemed pretty racy in those days.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hurray for Marie to support animal charities during those years when it must have been controversial. I had never heard of Marie Studholme or the Gaiety Girls before so this was a very interesting post. Thanks.

    I hope you're having a great vacation.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I take it she would have got Royalties from each card sold plus a fee for posing in the first place? So.If she then charged to sign ,she was getting paid 3-times over! A Proper Yorkshire Lass!

    ReplyDelete
  10. A very interesting tale about the signature!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Now there's an interesting link to Saltaire and one I didn't know about. She sounds like a remarkable woman. Thanks for the blog mention too. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I had never heard of Marie Studholme, either, but any friend of animals is a star in my autograph book. I wonder how much money she raised from those autographs.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I didn'd know about this lady. She looks lovely and I agree with Barbara
    helping animals makes her a very special and kind person, a real star!

    ReplyDelete
  14. as much as i know about JOSEPHINE BAKER, this one is a total stranger to me, but a very handsome woman and a precursor of the PETA organisation, surely. good for her!!
    :)~
    HUGZ

    ReplyDelete
  15. You are taking me to new avenues and down old streets of history. I really do enjoy seeing the old postcards and knowing the backgrounds.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anonymous7:04 PM

    In the early days of postcards it was common for the sender to write their signature on the picture side of the card, as originally the reverse was totally taken up by the address and you were actually not allowed to write a greeting on the address side. Due to popular demand the divided back came in in 1902, when they ruled off a small section down the side of the address side to write in. Eventually it became a half as we have today, so your signatory was probably the sender, not someone pretending to be a celebrity.

    ReplyDelete