Sunday, January 04, 2015

The Bookplates of Ellen Terry,Gordon Craig and Henry Irving.

Ellen Terry  (1847-1928)

"Dame Ellen TerryGBE  was an English stage actress who became the leading Shakespearean actress in Britain.
Born into a family of actors, Terry began performing as a child, acting in Shakespeare plays in London and toured throughout the British provinces as a teen. At 16 she married the 46-year-old artist George Frederic Watts, but they separated within a year. She soon returned to the stage but began a relationship with the architect Edward William Godwin and left performing for six years. She resumed acting in 1874 and was immediately acclaimed for her portrayal of roles in Shakespeare and other classics.
In 1878 she joined Henry Irving's company as his leading lady, and for more than the next two decades she was considered the leading Shakespearean and comic actress in Britain. Two of her most famous roles were Portia in The Merchant of Venice and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. She and Irving also toured with great success in America Canada and Britain."

I have no idea  when I purchased a group of Ellen Terry's bookplates designed by her son Gordon Craig.,  They sat undisturbed in an album until I recently started reading A Strange Eventful History by Michael Holroyd .The book is about the dramatic lives of  Ellen Terry, Henry Irving and their remarkable families.It has stimulated my interest in victorian theatrical celebrities.The book  includes eight line sketch drawings of bookplates by Gordon Craig. He designed his mother's  bookplates. and on one of them she hand wrote  travel instructions.

  1. Edward Gordon Craig(1872-1966)
  2. Edward Henry Gordon Craig, sometimes known as Gordon Craig, was Ellen Terry's son. He was an modernist theatre practitioner;  an actor, director,writer and scenic designer..During his lifetime he designed over 200 bookplates.
  3.  Fellow collector  John Blatchly has written an exceptionally well researched book 

  4. The bookplates of Edward Gordon Craig ,published 1997 by The Bookplate Society and The Apley House Press
  5. It  belongs in your bookplate reference library if you do not already have a copy

Here are just a few  examples of bookplates by Gordon Craig

  1. .

Sir Henry Irving (1838-1905)

"Sir Henry Irving  born John Henry Brodribb, sometimes known as J.H Irving * was an English stage actor in the Victorian era, known as an actor-manager because he took complete responsibility (supervision of sets, lighting, direction, casting, as well as playing the leading roles) for season after season at theLyceum Theatre, establishing himself and his company as representative of English classical theatre. He was the first actor to be awarded a knighthood. Irving is thought to have been the inspiration for the title character in Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula."

This bookplate  by Bernard Partridge was used by Henry Irving.
The letters of his name are black.

Here is a link to The Irving Society

*1/6/2014 Update from  Michael Kilgarriff at The Irving Society

Irving's birth certificate, of which I have a copy, show that he was born John Brodribb.  Henry was added later at his christening.  I have never seen him referred to as JH Irving."

The bookplate shown below(with the letters of his name in red) was reproduced on page 238 in English Bookplates by Egerton Castle.
From time to time I have seen his bookplate with the red letters..Such bookplates were cut out of Mr Castle's book and are bogus.

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