All those bits of information that don't seem to fit in anywhere else!
- "Female Stars of Musical Theatre in Edwardian England" by Christopher Frost
Female Stars of Musical Theatre
The book covers 286 actresses with 358 illustrations over 304 pages. There are 9 pages dedicated to Lily
- Elsie on the cover again!
A new magazine published in Germany on 1st December 2016
- In a letter dated 1/6/1947 to Sir Shane Leslie (1885-1971), Lily Elsie requests a signed photograph of Winston Churchill (1874-1965,
British prime minister 1940-45 and 1951-55).
- From Noël Coward's diary; Tuesday 11th December 1962.
Lily Elsie is dead. So is Pops d'Erlander. Very sad.
(Sir Gerald 'Pops' d'Erlander. Company Director and chairman of BOAC.) [Editor's note - Elsie actually died December 16th.]
- Who Was Who records her father as Charles W Cotton. Beaton disagrees, he records William Thomas Cotton. Although he does say, 'Her parents were supposedly...'. There is a strong suggestion that she was illegitimate, perhaps the daughter of the Lord Buchan of the day. Her marriage certificate says William Thomas Cotton (Dec'd).
- A 'Mrs Cotton', (either her mother or an Aunt) was wardrobe mistress at D'Oyly Carte Opera Company (founded 1876).
- Lily Elsie was familiarly known to everyone simply as Elsie. Her adult stage name followed from her childhood stage name of 'Little Elsie'.
- She made a film just after the first world war.
Comradeship a 67 minute, black & white, silent picture made in 1919. This film, produced by Stoll, directed by Maurice Elvey, tells the story of two friends and their varying fortunes during WWI. Elsie plays Betty Mortimore and Gerald Ames, Guy Newall, and Peggy Carlisle starred alongside her. The film was very popular in it's day.
- In later life Elsie suffered from obsessional neurosis. As part of the treatment for this she underwent leucotomy. This is a surgical operation to interrupt the course of white nerve fibres within the brain. The original form of this procedure, prefrontal lobotomy, had serious side effects. Modern procedures are more selective and the side effects less traumatic.
- Meggernie Castle, Glen Lyon, Perthshire, in the West Highlands of Scotland, was a family home of Elsie's husband, Major Ian Bullough. His father, John Bullough, purchased the 16th century castle (27 bedrooms) and 50 square mile estate in 1884 and on his death in 1891 it passed to his son Ian (aged 5). It was later sold to Sir Ernest Salter Wills (Wills Tobacco). This castle is probably where Captain Robert Campbell planned his treachery at Glencoe in 1695. The grounds contain a remarkable collection of trees planted 1730-40. A large house has been added to the original castle keep, in a style perfectly in keeping with the original structure.
Elsie may have lived here after her marriage in 1911 until moving with the Major to Redmarley in 1920.
- On May 22nd 1926 Elsie opened the new pavilion at Redmarley cricket club, Gloucestershire, in the West of England. This was reported in the Ledbury Reporter and Guardian.
- Elsie had at least three photographic sittings with Cecil Beaton. Late 1920s, early 40s, and late 50s.
- The 10c US Postage, 'Special Delivery', stamp in use in the 1900s was known as the 'Merry Widow'. This stamp shows a winged helmet of Mercury, printed in green. This was thought to bear a resemblance to Elsie's large-brimmed plumed hats from the stage show.
- From the Weekly Dispatch. 2nd September 1917.Devonshire [Rural south east England] was more patronised then ever this season by theatre folks on holiday. The neighbourhood of Bournmouth was also a favourite place. Lily Elsie, who although she is not on the stage, is still (for the present) reckoned as belonging to it, went to Bournemnouth for a change of air in August. Gertie Millar, to get a change of air, has been going to Hove by the midnight train and returning to town every day in time to play.
- Elsie's name was used to endorse various products. For example, this advert for Phosferine.
(Phosferine Liquid and tablets are listed under schedule 10 of the National Health Service (General Medical Services) Regulations 1992 - items not to be prescribed. A quick web search shows they are still available today, for example from the Qwomar Trading Company, British Virgin Islands.)
- Elsie attended performance of Lilac Time in 1928 to mark the retirement of Garrett Todd. Everyone who had acted at Daly's during that century were invited.
- Cecil Beaton makes note that Elsie smoked.
- The interior of All Saints Church, Ennismore Gardens, London, SW7, (The church where Elsie was married in 1911) was designed by the artist and architect Thomas Ralph Spence (1855-1903). The church was deconsecrated by the Church of England in the early 1970s and became the Russian Orthodox Cathedral for London.
- St Andrews Hospital, Dollis Hill, where Elsie ended her days, was built in 1913. It was run by Sisters of the Little Company of Mary aka the Blue Nuns. St Andrew's was a private hospital but had some wards for geriatric NHS patients. It even had a small casualty/A&E. Someone who worked there at the time describes Elsie as a ‘valetudinarian’ -not ill, but looked after more than in a hotel. (Ref. AP290511)
- 1901 Census. I have searched the on-line version of the 1901 census and find Elsie living in London. Click here for full details.
- It has been noted elsewhere that Elsie often failed to appear at performances where she was billed as the star. One of her understudies was Miss May Hobson.
- In an article in the 28th January 1950 edition of The Sphere, W MacQueen-Pope reported on the Foyle's Literary Luncheon at the Dorchester Hotel, London. This was an event to celebrate the 'Gaiety Girls'. Elsie was amongst the guests, along with Gertie Millar, Phyllis Dare, and other famous names from the theatre around the turn of the century. There is a picture of her at age 63.
Many thanks to www.arthurlloyd.co.uk for this picture.
- Just before the first world war Elsie was living in an apartment in the Great Portland Street area of London. The Lift Attendant, a Mr Alfred Sell of Bolsover Street who had just left the army, named his daughter after her. Miss Elsie Clara Sell was born in 1909 and sadly died this year (2002). Miss Sell (later Noades) met Elsie several times in her flat and was given a doll as a birthday present by her. Elsie would have left this address when she married in 1911. Great Portland Street is conveniently close to The Strand and Leicester Square theatres.
I have since been told that the address was Devonshire Mansions, 208 Great Portland Street.
Pictures by D Noades
Sir George and Lady Bullough (briefly!) had a residence near Ross-on-Wye, Bishopswood Mansion.
Sir George purchased the property from Mr H McCalmont M.P. in 1898. Sadly it was destroyed by fire two years later. The house was never rebuilt and the estate has now been broken up.
The property had previously been extensively damaged in an earlier fire (1873). The restoration following the first fire had included the installation of a fabulous 'Grand Staircase', relocated from London and reputedly by Wren.
- Another product endorsement.
Dalys Theatre, Nov 16. 1909
dear Madame Rubinstein
After several months use of your Valaze I can frankly say that I have found nothing as beneficial
Yours very truly
- Elsie's entry in the 1906 edition of The Green Room Book.
ELSIE, Lily, actress; commenced with chorus and small parts in the provinces; was selected by Frank Curzon and George Dance to play the Princes in "The Chinese Honeymoon" at the Strand, which she did for nearly the entire run of that piece; afterwards went for a short time on tour, and on returning to London was engaged by George Edwardes to play in "Lady Madcap"; was transferred under the same management to "The Little Michus" at Daly's, 1905; went to Prince of Wales's to appear in "The Little Cherub," by Owen Hall, 1906. Address: Prince of Wales's Theatre, W.C.
And the entry for 1907.
ELSIE, Lily, actress; commenced in the provinces; was selected by Frank Curzon and George Dance to play the Princes in "The Chinese Honeymoon" at the Strand, which she did for nearly the entire run of that piece; afterwards went for a short time on tour, and on returning to London was engaged by George Edwardes to play in "Lady Madcap"; was transferred under the same management to "The Little Michus" at Daly's, 1905; went to Prince of Wales's to appear in "The Little Cherub," followed by "See See," 1906; created part of Lally in "The New Aladdin," Gaiety, 1906. Address: Gaiety Theatre, W.C.
Now wouldn't the entry in 1908 be interesting!
- Elsie's picture on the front of a music magazine from July 1924.
- This is a page from a 1930 visitors' book, from the collection of Zena Dare. (Reproduced by kind permission of her grand-daughter.)
- A full page feature on Elsie appeared in this magazine from November 1953.
- In his biography, Horace "Cadogan" Smith, the Queen's (then Princes Elizabeth) riding instructor, also lists Elsie amongst his notable pupils. [A HORSEMAN THROUGH SIX REIGNS, Reminiscences of a Royal Riding Master. Odhams. 1955]
- Cecil Beaton : My Bolivian Aunt A Memoir
Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1971
[p 46 - circa 1915] Aunt Jessie attempted to furnish this spare room in the manner of a French dress shop, and she made a somewhat haphazard collection of picture postcards of current stage-favourites with which she decorated the top of a gilt and pleated silk screen. To me these photographs possessed the very essence of the theatre. An electric current ran through me at the mere sight of Iris Hoey, showing her gums as she smiled, holding a very stiff bunch of artificial irises; I was abject in admiration of the opulent Marie Blanche with rabbit's nostrils and cart-rut-undulating hair, while the latest smiling postcards of my favourite Lily Elsie gave me the terrible desire for ownership which only a collector knows.
- Listing of the PRO Archive.
- A book with some humorous comments about rehearsals for 'The Merry Widow' at Daly's theatre in 1907 - 'Fortunes Favourite. The life and times of Franz Lehar'. Authors, W. Macqueen-Pope and D.L. Murray. Hutchinson 1953. Pages 97/8 give these details about the rehearsals. Here is one short quote: 'Lily Elsie was more wide-eyed than ever with wonder and fear. She was sure she could not do it. "This part wants an opera singer," she would say, "and I'm not an opera singer." She had seen the show in Vienna and it had frightened her. What Lily Elsie feared most was the song 'Vilja'. That she was sure she could not sing.
Miss Lily Elsie at the British Empire Pageant ball in May 1930
Elsie appeared in this striking costume on May 26th 1930 in a show attended by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales. She represented 'Britain and her industries', and wore £100,000 worth of jewellery. (Photo from the Tatler of may 1930)
- "Ring Up the Curtain" by Ernest Short and Arthur Compton-Rickett (published 1938, Herbert Jenkins Ltd, Page 154):
"..... Lily Elsie, who was recovering from an operation for appendicitis, only managed to finish her performance with the aid of repeated injections of morphia."
(Kindly transcribed by C Frost)
Bury St Edmunds Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society production of The Merry Widow at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, November 2008.
Follow this link for more details
- Ms J, from Auckland New Zealand, writes to say, "My mother, who is now [April 2009] in her 80s, worked as a teenager in the 1930s for a wedding dress designer who so admired Lily Elsie, that she named her business "Lily Elsie" in her honour. It was, by the way, a very successful business and made the gowns for many of the well-off people of the day!
- Here is a most interesting item, sent to me by Daniel Fearon (click on image to enlarge)
The image shows a silver-plated electrotype plaquette of Lily Elsie in her role as Sonia in "The Merry Widow", by the sculptor Percival M. F. Hedley (1870-1921) - his bust of Elgar is in the NPG. The British Museum (Dept of Coins & Medals) have an almost identical example, though dated 1907. Her upward-tilted head faces to the left, wearing a curled feather. The legend reads (left) "I LOVE YOU SO"; (right) THE MERRY WIDOW; (below) OP. DCLXXXXXI - LILY ELSE - LONDON 1908, 105 x 95mm. Hedley produced a number of portrait plaquettes of many famous people including a number of musicians and theatrical personalities. The plaquette has two small holes to the bottom of the side columns, for attachment to a backing.
Image copyright D Fearon
Mr Fearon currently (July 2009) has this lovely plaquette for sale, click here for details.
- The V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum, London) have published a new book, 'Lucile Ltd: London, Paris, New York, Chicago: 1890s – 1930s', which includes many mentions of Elsie along with some pictures. V&A Bookshop ISBN NUMBER 9781851775613
- The Art of Gesture
A few pages of an article by Elsie with Carmen Turia from The Strand magazine.
- Lily Elsie Celebration Day 2011
On Wednesday 18th May 2011, Westminster Reference Library hosted a ‘Lily Elsie Day’ organised by Ken Reeves of the George Edwardes Society. There were two talks, an abridged reading of Lady Madcap and a screening of 'Comradeship', (on DVD from the British Film Institute), together with a display drawn from the 60,000 books and magazines in the Library’s extensive collections in the fine and performing arts.
Lily Elsie Celebration Day 2011
Here is a link to a review of the day posted by LN - http://www.strandlines.net
- There is an entry for Elsie in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography See this link for more details. (Six paragraphs by Kurt Ganzl)
- The Bystander May 22nd 1907
- The Salford Advertiser 28 July 2011
Article by BA Lightfoot
- The Chicago Examiner 22 June 1913
A real juicy gossip sheet (for 1913) featuring Lily Elsie, Gertie Millar, Gabrielle Ray, and May Etheridge
- Cecil Beaton Photo
A stunning later image of Elsie by Cecil Beaton, late 1940s maybe?
- The Play Pictorial
Vol. 6, No. 35. - The Little Michus.
- See See
- Painting of Lily Elsie by Sir John Lavery, apparently commissioned in 1909. It's a full length pose in her Lucile final act costume for The Merry Widow. This photo of the painting was in The Stage Year Book for 1910.
- New York Times, 17th July 1928. Elsie's father?
I am told that Arthur married Agnes Clementina De-Laporte in 1883
- The O.P. "Merry Widow" Dinner
Chris H from the Gabrielle Ray web site has found a seating plan for the O.P. [Old Playgoers?] "Merry Widow" Dinner in 1909.
Hotel Cecil, Strand, W.C., [London, UK] Sunday 31st January 1909
Quite a treasure!
- The Tatler, 16th May 1928. Major and Mrs Ian Bullough at Chester [Horse Race] Meeting
Major Ian Bullough is the ex-master of the Ledbury, and is with his charming wife, who is better known to an adoring public
as Miss Lily Elsie.
- The Tatler
Chris H from the Gabrielle Ray web site has found another two pages from The Tatler
26th January 1927
7th May 1924
- The Tatler
More Tatler from Chris H at the Gabrielle Ray web site
1st March 1916
6th February 1918
- See See
More from Chris H at the Gabrielle Ray web site
1907 programme for “See See” at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
Several items posted 29 August 2015
from Illustrated WW1 (Illustrated London News)
- The Tatler again, 16th August 1916.
Elsie in costume for The Admirable Crichton at The Coliseum. 'Her husband is serving with his regiment in France'. Rita Martin picture.