Saturday, July 1, 2023

Fanny's Bloomers


Winter morn. Cold. Fire on. Milo made. What's on ebay today? Not much. A nice Miss Woolgar. The King of Holland. That'll be the one who 'married' prima donna Algeria 'Emilie Ambre'. 'Mlle Locatelli' who sang supporting roles in the London opera houses for three seasons ... and Julia Gwynne?  As David Lovell commented, given the apparent (and later proven as 1865) date of the photo, Julia would have been 8 or 10, which age the lady in the photo definitely is well past.

I take a look at the back of the photo, which the vendor has intelligently included. 'Miss Gwynne'. Ah ha! There's been a bit of guesswork going on here. And it's wrong ... Bad Charles. Julia Gwynne (ps, Mrs George Edwardes) was not half as celebrated as this Miss Gwynne.

This is Miss Fanny Gwynne. Not her real name, of course. She was born Frances Gairdner, daughter of cabinet-maker Edward John Gairdner and his wife Frances Mercer nee Crosby, in London's Warren Street, 26 June 1841. She made her name, and a ghastly mistake in 1864, in Liverpool ... just before this photo was taken. How do I know that? Because Mr Henry Mullins, photographer, of St Brelade, Jersey only worked in London for little more than a year between 1864-5.

And Fanny? She only came to London in the second half of 1864, after having established herself as a first class juvenile leading lady at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Liverpool. Her first London role was none less that the juvenile lead in Boucicault's The Streets of London ...

With Henry Forrester in The Streets of London

The mistake? The usual one. A man. One Richard Barnes Howson Rowlinson (b Liverpool 7 January 1837; d Lansfield Terrace, Wandsworth 1919). Ensign 45th Lancashire Rifles. Briefly. Cotton broker. Bankrupt. Colonial broker. Bankrupt. They were swiftly divorced, he married the co-respondent, had a bunch of daughters and a long re-married life, while Fanny married the more consequent Robert Alfred Brooks in 1871, played a little longer in good roles in classy theatres (Azéma in The Palace of Truth), resided in Cavendish Square, inherited a fortune ... He died in 1886 .. she? I'll have to look harder ..

I suppose my next job is to find out in which piece, 'Fanny Gwynne' wore those ginormous bloomers ... hardly The Streets of London! Tomorrow, I think .. I've bypassed the cocktail hour by two hours!

Ahha! Charles's 'bundle' contains several players from the original Streets of London ...

Here's John Nelson ... labelled as !! William Wilson???

Please e-bay vendors (and this is one of the best), if you don't KNOW ... don't guess. This is a grand photo, and I weren't such a persistent old curmudgeon I would have missed it ...  

BINGO! One up for Charles! He has found Fanny's death notice. July 12 1930. 'of Winterbourne, Babbacombe, Torquay'. Widow of Robert Alexander Brooks. Alexander?  Another belt buckled. Team work!

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