I was just casually reading through Votes for Women from 23rd January 1914 when this leapt out at me and made me giggle:
The final hurrah of the Actresses' Franchise League was in December 1958 at a special Ball held in the Savoy Hotel.
The programme for the event is fantastic - a treasure trove of information and a tantalising glimpse into what sounds like an amazing evening. The great and the good had their dinner at 8pm but there was a later "Actresses' Supper" served at 11pm, presumably so that actresses in shows could come and join the festivities after their performances had come down.
This article was published in the Observer newspaper on 24th August 2014 - it was originally published by the same paper on 24th August 1986 and is about the vote of the Magic Circle, the International Brotherhood of Magicians, in that year on whether to allow female magicians to become members of the organisation.
Actress and Actresses' Franchise League member May Whitty's memories of August 4th 1914:
Aug 4 – “We played as usual for Church, traveled home, supped with Cissie L and an air man Carlton after going to Hippodrome, all so strange, unreal – wild rumours of naval engagements, ships sunk – the streets as we walked home were full of excited people waving flags – Singing Marseillaise, riding on tops of cabs – all so horrifying, then the tension – the rumours – the hopes the fear, and the Sheer World of such stupidity, and life went on..."
Researching my PhD about the Actresses' Franchise League and their work has been and remains wonderful - there's been so much to find and it's a treat to look for it. I've discovered that I love tracking things down! The absence of archives or papers for the most longstanding and active members of the League has been the most frustrating part, although of course it's always worth being optimistic about the future.
Then there are the near misses... here are two that I've experienced that are to do with the actress Adeline Bourne.
Studying, performing and engaging with feminist theatre from a century ago has pretty much ruined the past three years of theatre-going for me - and in many ways I couldn't be more pleased. I feel awake.
You might have read my blog post about the Actresses' Franchise League and their conversation with a manager of the Empress Rooms in London in 1914...
If you haven't then please do by clicking here!
I took advantage of the newly opened Newsroom at the British Library to look up the original story in the Daily News... hoping that it might be possible to find which member of the AFL had drawn the sketches... and discovered that Votes for Women had put a rather positive spin on the end of the story,
one which I had believed and then blogged about.
Picture the scene thus:
Two Edwardian actresses meet
whilst walking through Covent Garden.
It's a balmy afternoon some time in autumn 1913.
Last week the press reported negative comments made by the leader of UKIP about working women who take time off to have families - challenged about his views on working mothers he said "I can't change biology"
This old-fashioned (to be kind) and backward (to be honest) view reminded me of some equally ridiculous and sexist discrimination towards working women - in this case actresses - almost exactly a century ago...
On 29th January 1914 the Actresses' Franchise League held a Tea Dance at the Empress Rooms in Kensington.
It was a fundraiser for the League and as well as
Tea and the Tango, there were all sorts of other entertainments, including palmistry.
Well-known actresses became waitresses for the occasion to serve the tables and thereby hangs a tale...
Thoughts, reflections, bits of research