Saturday, April 09, 2011

Sepia Saturday 69 : From Mabel With Love


We tend to think of "celebrity culture" - and all the tissue-paper thin emotions and over-dramatic excesses which accompany it - as a recent phenomenon. But as any self-respecting elephant will tell you, few things are new in this world of ours. Step forward into the sepia limelight Miss Mabel Love.

Born in the English seaside resort of Folkestone in 1874 and coming from a family of stage and music hall entertainers, Mabel Love - her real name was Mabel Watson - first appeared on stage at the tender age of twelve. She was regarded as one of the great beauties of the later Victorian age and her fame coincided with the growing popularity of picture postcards. The widespread circulation of postcards such as the one above, which is from my own collection, was perhaps the first manifestation of the type of celebrity worship that we are all too familiar with today. In 1894, the twenty year old Winston Churchill wrote to Mabel pleading for a signed photograph.

But the fevered lifestyle of a celebrity star had its own pressures even in the Victorian age and in March 1889 the newspapers of the day were full of headlines reporting Mabel's disappearance. It later emerged that she had gone to the Thames Embankment in London in order to commit suicide - but like most good celebrities had eventually decided against it.

Mabel kept working on the stage (and appeared in an early 1917 film "In Another Girls' Shoes") until 1918 when she retired and later opened a dance school in London, But today she is perhaps best known because of those early postcard photographs of her which have become firm favourites with many postcard collectors.

To see other contributions to this week's Sepia Saturday go over to the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the links.

23 comments:

  1. AND a little color added for effect. Nice find, Alan!

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  2. Wow, what a beauty! Umm... is she still single?

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  3. Britney who? Mabel wins, hands down, any day.

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  4. Complete with 19 inch waist...

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  5. Uh oh! Now I feel I must start a new sub-collection in my postcard collection! Victorian stars! Probably rather hard to come by...oh well...fascinating post!

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  6. Love the color added. That scoundrel Winnie....

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  7. Oh my Alan she is LOVELY...and I am so entertained that she comes from a dear place, Folkestone! I've been there and loved that quaint little seaside town...and plan another trip there someday! The colors in this photo are stunning too...the touch of my favorite blue....lovely post!

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  8. Those eyes are amazing -- so seductive!

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  9. Mabel Love was a beauty! Glad she talked herself out of not living. I've never heard of her before, and I thank you for sharing her with us today.

    Happy Sepia Saturday,

    Kathy M.

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  10. Oh, she is indeed lovely. I can imagine her pondering the jump from the bridge with all of the appropriate silent-movie gestures.

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  11. I've seen this pose before - She's holding a cell phone to her ear!

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  12. Such a shame when the pressures of celebrity push a person towards suicide. Fame is a dangerous thing!!

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  13. I believe I was born in the wrong era!!! I just love this kind of thing complete with the hats, dresses, shoes, etc....

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  14. Holey Moley!!! Look at the size of her waist!! Could she even breath?

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  15. But how long would she last in the jungle in "I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here"? Fabulous picture Alan. Postcards of Edwardian celebrities are surprisingly cheap at the moment, but will rise massively in the near future. Now is the time to buy.

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  16. She may have been a great beauty, but her eyes look kind of mean and calculating to me.

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  17. Hypnotic spells to tell you buy my postcard or else. All good poster girls end up in a dance studio. I can dig the dress and hat and assume it was beyond decent standards back then according to Victoria.

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  18. I wonder what color the dress really was? It's funny you know but I have a hard time thinking of the Victorian era as HAVING any color. Isn't that weird?

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  19. Mabel is a most fetching youg lady. We can be glad she thought better of the Thames!

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  20. I enjoyed reading about her life. She is gorgeous ...and what a tiny waist!

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  21. such a beautiful postcard. I wonder if that was a stage name or her real
    name.
    Nancy
    http://ladiesofthegrove.blogspot.com/

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  22. A sultry beauty - I love her outfit, especially the hat with the fluffy feathers :-) Jo

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  23. She is very beautiful. And she is new to me. I wonder how they lined those eyes back then, bits of coal do you think, pre-eye make up pencils of today.

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