Sunday, 24 July 2016

Hilda Hanbury, the unknown four and postcards from Celebrities of the stage 1902-3

The troupe from the Toreador, 1903
It is odd just where the search for a story will take you.

I have been crawling over the collection of old picture postcards marketed by Tuck and Sons.*

In the past it has been the photographs of our cities, towns and villages that have drawn me in.

Hilda Hanbury aged 26
But today I came across a collection devoted to the music hall artists and actors from the back end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries.

Most have long since faded into the shadows and have left little trace.

So despite my efforts I have yet to discover anything about the four from the “Toreador” who were on a picture card sent to Miss M Pinnock in Whitby in 1904.

There will of course be someone out there who is an expert on the troupe and will be in touch but at present they are a mystery.

Not so  Hilda Hanbury.  She has left a trail I can follow.

Her  sister was Lilly Hanbury a popular actress who made her debut in musicals but went on to perform Ibsen and Shakespeare before dying at just 34 in child birth in 1908.

Hilda was also an actress but had married a man of independent means in 1905 and settled down to a comfortable life in Mayfair in a 16 roomed property looked after by nine servants.  Her son became a theatre agent and her grand children and great grandchildren also went on the stage and into films.**

Hilda in 1902
Now I could have continued the story with a quick look at some of those actors, but they are well known enough to be easily found.

Instead I am off searching for Suzanne Sheldon, Constance Collier and Gertrude Elliot, and there is no knowing what I might turn up or how that will lead me off into stories on the theatre and music halls of late 19th and early 20th centuries.

We shall see.

Pictures; “From the Toreador” part of the set Celebrities of the stage, 1903, and Hilda Hanbury, Celebrities of the stage, actress, 1902, issued by Tuck & Sons, courtesy of Tuck DB, http://tuckdb.org/

*Tuck DB, http://tuckdb.org/

**The Fox family

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