Saturday, 30 July 2016

Beware a challenge ...... the story behind the Fatal Wedding

I am on a quest to find the most boring picture post card ever seen, bought, or sent.

I can’t claim this was an original idea.  It came from my friend Jean who laid down the challenge.

“In the 70's when I was working in the National Postal Museum we did an exhibition of postcards.

As part of this, we did a small display which we called "Boring Postcards."

One I recall was the public lavatories at Huddersfield which to add to the gloom was not even in colour.

But it proved to be the most-looked at part of the Exhibition! “

So off I began with the collection of Tuck and Sons and the site, Tuck DB which offers 133,745 postcards, 29,023 sets and 309,326 uploaded pictures.*

Now this is a site I have plundered over the last year because of the sheer number and variety of images covering the late 19th and a big chunk of the 20th century and it has given up plenty of fascinating stories.**

And sure enough with just a little effort I came across this card from the series The Fatal Wedding from the Princess’s Theatre, London.

I thought I had struck gold and while it does not rival the public lavatories at Huddersfield it seemed a close contender.

But then as you do I went in search of Mr Bert Coote’s big production of the Fatal Wedding and discovered a story.

The Fatal Wedding was written by Theodore Kremer who was born around 1871 and died in 1923.  He wrote a number of melodramas including The Slaves of the Orient, The Great Automobile Mystery and Bertha the Sewing Machine Girl which focused on a sweatshop worker who is victimised by her father’s murderer.***

The Fatal Wedding falls into the same category mixing drama, danger and forbidden love.  In this case Cora Williams destroys the happy marriage of Howard and Mabel Wilson and drives them to divorce. Howard gets custody of their children Jessie and Frankie but Mabel winds up abducting them.

Five years later Cora discovers Mabel living in poverty with the children. She tries to poison Mabel and frame Jessie on a charge of theft but is unsuccessful. Howard and Mabel eventually reconcile and live with their children.****

It was first staged in New York in 1902, before going to London and went on to tour Australia where in 1911 it became a film under the same name.  Like its stage predecessor it proved very popular but sadly is one of those lost films.

Nor is that quite all. For the Princess’s Theatre, London also has a history.

It was on Oxford Street and opened in 1828 as the Queen’s Bazaar before adopting the name the Princess’s Theatre in 1836.

Over the next seventy years it specialized in operas, light entertainment and pantomimes and for a while staged Shakespeare productions by Charles Kean before concentrating on melodramas.

And it was our play, the Fatal Wedding which was the last ever to be acted out on its stage.
In 1902 it closed and became a warehouse before being demolished and replaced by a Woolworth store and has since been home to a number of big retail chains.

All of which leaves me to concede defeat with the most boring postcard, so I leave it open to suggestions and retire from the competition leaving Jean at present the winner.

Picture; from the series, “The Fatal Weeding from the Princess’s Theatre, London, Tuck & Sons Ltd, 1902, courtesy of Tuck DB,

*Tuck DB,

**Raphael Tuck and Sons Ltd,

*** Daniel S. Burt, The Chronology of American Literature: America's Literary Achievements from the Colonial Era to Modern Times, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004 p314 quoted in Theodore Kremer, Wikipedia,

**** The Fatal Wedding,

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