Celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday with these lovely illustrations.

To celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday, three more fabulous Arthur Rackham illustrations from the 1909 Charles and Mary Lamb “Tales of Shakespeare”.

Romeo and Juliet

Arthur Rackham
image credit: Arthur Rackham [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Arthur Rackham was born in Lewisham in 1867. At the age of 17, he was sent on an ocean voyage to Australia to improve his fragile health, accompanied by two aunts. At the age of 18, he worked as a clerk at the Westminster Fire Office and began studying part-time at the Lambeth School of Art. In 1892, he started working for the ‘Westminster Budget’ as a reporter and illustrator. His first book illustrations were published in 1893 in ‘To the Other Side’ by Thomas Rhodes, but his first serious commission was in 1894 for ‘The Dolly Dialogues’, the collected sketches of Anthony Hope. Book illustrating then became Rackham’s career for the rest of his life.

Ophelia from Hamlet

Arthur Rackham
image credit: Arthur Rackham [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Arthur Rackham is widely regarded as one of the leading illustrators from the ‘Golden Age’ of British book illustration which roughly encompassed the years from 1890 until the end of the First World War. During that period, there was a strong market for high quality illustrated books which typically were given as Christmas gifts. Many of Rackham’s books were produced in a de luxe limited edition, often vellum bound and usually signed, as well as a smaller, less ornately bound quarto ‘trade’ edition. This was sometimes followed by a more modestly presented octavo edition in subsequent years for particularly popular books. The onset of the war in 1914 curtailed the market for such quality books, and the public’s taste for fantasy and fairies also declined in the 1920s.

Cordelia from King Lear

image credit: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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Beautiful portraits of actress Ellen Terry born On This Day in 1847.

‘Ne’er cast a clout till May be out’.

Book Promotion

Leefdale by Michael Murray http://amzn.eu/dhYOHmW


Beautiful portraits of actress Ellen Terry born On This Day in 1847.

Dame Alice Ellen Terry,

known professionally as Ellen Terry,

was an English actress who became the leading Shakespearean actress in Britain. She was born on 27th February 1847.

Ellen Terry
image credit: Getty Center [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
From Wikipedia: Born into a family of actors, Terry began performing as a child, acting in Shakespeare plays in London, and toured throughout the British provinces in her teens. 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 retired from the stage for six years. She resumed acting in 1874 and was immediately acclaimed for her portrayal of roles in Shakespeare and other classics.

Ellen Terry
image credit: John Singer Sargent [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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 and Britain.

Ellen Terry
image credit: George W. Baldry [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Ellen Terry
image credit: See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In 1903 Terry took over management of London’s Imperial Theatre, focusing on the plays of George Bernard Shaw and Henrik Ibsen. The venture was a financial failure, and Terry turned to touring and lecturing. She continued to find success on stage until 1920, while also appearing in films from 1916 to 1922. Her career lasted nearly seven decades.

Ellen Terry costues
image credit:By Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK (Ellen Terry Costumes Uploaded by tm) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
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Long running musical opened on Broadway #OnThisDay in 1964

On January 16th 1964, the musical “Hello, Dolly!” opened on Broadway beginning a run of 2,844 performances.

The show has become one of the most enduring musical theatre hits, with four Broadway revivals and international success. It was also made into the 1969 film Hello Dolly! that was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and won three.

The film clip below appears to be someone’s holiday cine-film of a trip to New York in 1966.

So a couple of years into the Hello Dolly! run.

It’s an amazing bit of film and the cinematographer certainly had an eye for a good shot.

No connection to Hello, Dolly! but a great film clip!

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Book of the Day at http://www.spurwing-ebooks.com/ with details of a free Kindle download.

#OnThisDay in 1934 Maggie Smith was born.

Margaret Natalie Smith

was born in Ilford, Essex on 28 December 1934.

Now, eighty three years later, Maggie Smith is one of Britain’s most well known actors.

Appearing in over fifty films, innumerable TV productions and countless stage performances, Dame Maggie Smith has dominated British drama for six decades.

Maggie Smith first appeared on stage in 1952

in an Oxford Playhouse production of  Twelfth Night. Her first TV role in 1955 was an episode of the BBC Sunday Night Theatre and her first film role was as a party guest in Child in the House in 1956.

Fast forward and Maggie Smith’s most recent stage performance was in 2007:

The Lady from Dubuque by Edward Albee. Her most recent TV was Downton Abbey (2010 – 2015) as Lady Crawley and The Lady in The Van (2015) was her most recent film.

I enjoyed Maggie Smith’s Oscar winning performance in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in 1969.

By then Maggie Smith was a well established stage, TV and film actress with a formidable reputation.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was a fantastic film with a brilliant script based on the novel by Muriel Spark. Maggie Smith played the role brilliantly and the novel is still worth reading.

A few quotes:

For those who like that sort of thing,” said Miss Brodie in her best Edinburgh voice, “That is the sort of thing they like.

It is well, when in difficulties, to say never a word, neither black nor white. Speech is silver but silence is golden.

These years are still the years of my prime. It is important to recognise the years of one’s prime, always remember that.

I was about to start teacher training when I read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and saw Maggie Smith in the film. This quote stayed with me during training and throughout my career.

To me education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil’s soul.

Maggie Smith continues to perform.

A TV documentary Nothing Like a Dame is in post-production. And Sherlock Gnomes, an animated film in which Maggie Smith is the voice of Lady Bluebury, the leader of the blue gnomes and Gnomeo’s widowed mother, is scheduled for release in 2018.

Happy Birthday Dame Maggie Smith!

happy birthday
image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/birthday-background-happy-937520/

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Celebrate the birth of Hermione Gingold #OnThisDay in 1897

Hermione Gingold

was an English actress whose distinctive drawling, deep voice was a result of the nodes on her vocal cords she developed in the 1920s and early 1930s.

A successful child actress,

Hermione Gingold

went on to act in comedy, drama and experimental theatre as well as broadcasting on the radio. Her greatest success came in revues during the 1930s to the 1950s.

In later life she played formidable elderly characters in such films and stage musicals as Gigi (1958), Bell, Book and Candle (1958), The Music Man (1962) and A Little Night Music (1973).

She became well known as a guest on television talk shows and continued to appear in revues, plays and musicals until an accident ended her performing career in 1977.

Hermione Gingold

had two children with her first husband, publisher Michael Joseph. Her younger son was Stephen Joseph the pioneer of theatre-in-the round who established the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough.

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The longest running British stage play opened in London #OnThisDay in 1952.

The Mousetrap is a murder mystery play by Agatha Christie.

The Mousetrap opened in London’s West End on 25th November 1952 and has been running continuously since then.

It’s the longest running West End show with over 26,000 performances.

Agatha Christie herself did not expect The Mousetrap to run for such a long time.

In her autobiography, Christie reports a conversation that she had with Peter Saunders, the theatre impresario and producer of the show. Saunders thought the show would run for about fourteen months. To which Christie replied, “It won’t run that long. Eight months perhaps. Yes, I think eight months.”

The original West End cast included Richard Attenborough as Detective Sergeant Trotter and his wife Sheila Sim as Mollie Ralston. They took a 10% profit-participation in the production, which was paid for out of their combined weekly salary.

The murderer’s identity is divulged near the end of the play in a twist ending. By tradition, at the end of each performance, audiences are asked not to reveal the identity of the killer to anyone outside the theatre, to ensure that the end of the play is not spoilt for future audiences.

We went to see the show years ago but I can’t remember what happened in the end, so I can’t tell you anyway!

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Hope you have a great day! 🙂

Goodbye Love Film!

We’ve been subscribed to Love Film in its several incarnations for years.

But Amazon sent an email a couple of months ago to inform us that the DVD-rental-in-the-post that we’ve enjoyed so much was coming to an end.

Yes, we have Prime and a subscription to Netflix and are overwhelmed with choice. But there was something about Love Film which made it special.

We rarely used it for trying to view recent films. It was the back catalogue we particularly liked.

And our final Love Film DVD has been brilliant.

“In Celebration” is a 1975 film directed by Lindsay Anderson.

It’s based on the 1969 stage play of the same title by David Storey.

Storey’s modern classic took audiences by storm and established him as one of the country’s most powerful playwrights.

The film’s director, Lindsay Anderson, also directed the stage play at The Royal Court Theatre in London.

The cast of the film is the same as the cast of the stage play.

Not strictly autobiographical, but rooted in the playwright’s Nottinghamshire mining background, “In Celebration” is set in a family home on the night three grown-up sons return somewhat reluctantly to celebrate their parents’ wedding anniversary.

The film stars Alan Bates and was shot in the Derbyshire mining town of Langwith. The Shaws (Bill Owen, Constance Chapman) are celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary and their three sons have returned home to take them for a night out at an expensive restaurant. Mr. Shaw is a coal miner of 49 years, who married a woman from a higher social class. He’s only one year off retirement. Mrs. Shaw urged her sons to abandon their father’s mining heritage in pursuit of corporate careers, but the results have not been positive. Andy (Alan Bates), the oldest, became a solicitor, but abandoned the work to pursue painting. Colin (James Bolam) was a former Communist party member, who has come to enjoy material (but not emotional) success as a labour negotiator for an automobile company. The youngest brother Steven (Brian Cox) is a teacher, married with four children of his own, who is writing a book, but has not produced any notable published works. The film examines the tensions which develop as the family reunite over the course of one evening.

The film was produced and released as part of the American Film Theatre, which adapted theatrical works for a subscription-driven cinema series. The play was re-rehearsed for three weeks before shooting and location scenes were filmed in the colliery town.

The sound quality of the film is flaky now but the acting is strong and powerful. The themes of the play still resonate strongly today and overall, we enjoyed the film adaptation of an excellent drama. Michael actually saw the original production at The Royal Court and was fascinated to watch the film and revive his memories of the original production.

We’d got several old films on our Love Film waiting list and hopefully we’ll be able to track them down on one of the streaming services.

But we’ll miss our DVD in the post and say goodbye, rather sadly, to Love Film!

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Have a good day! 🙂