Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Stray Dog

Imagine that you are a young artist in St.Petersburg in 1912. Perhaps you are a talented musician, a futurist painter, or a dreamy poet. You are deciding on a night out. There would probably only be one choice for you - The Stray Dog.

The Stray Dog was a dark and smoky cellar on a corner of Mikhaelovska Square, decorated by Sudeikin, where artists with new ideas congregated. Here one could watch Tamara Karsavina dance in giant mirrors, listen to Anna Akhmatova recite her latest poem, or flirt with the handsome Gumylov. In her autobiography, Karsavina described how she danced in 'the midst of the audience in a small space encircled by garlands of fresh flowers' to the music of Couperin. Here the latest plays were performed and exhibitions were held. Even the manager, Boris Pronin, was an actor.

People entering the club signed their names in a pigskin book. Those who were not artists were given the derogatory name of 'pharmacists'. They had to pay to watch the artists perform.

The 'Queen of The Stray Dog', Anna Akhmatova used to sweep in dressed in black silk. In spite of her husband, Gumylov, flirting with the beautiful women, she must have had a good time there. She wrote:

"We are all revellers. We are all whores.
How unhappy we are together."

Tamara Karsavina (1910)
The Stray Dog lasted until 1919. It has reopened and is now a hip cafe in St.Petersburg: The Stray Dog

(This is a little bit out of time but I couldn't resist learning about this favourite haunt of Russian artists in the early twentieth century.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Well-Dressed Music-Hall Star

Imagine having your leg amputated at 82! This happened to Albert Whelan, one of the most famous Australian music-hall entertainers. Yet he still made appearances and even did a stint on the BBC TV show, Life Begins at Eighty. One has to admire this kind of attitude!

Born in in Melbourne in 1875 as Albert Waxman, he made his start by singing for the miners in the goldfields in Western Australia. He changed his name and became part of the musical comedy team, Whelan & Wilson.

Whelan must have been extremely ambitious because he soon went to London. He made his debut as a dancer and singer at London's Empire Theatre in 1901. He was very versatile - he could play the piano and the violin, sing comic songs, and tell funny stories.

He toured the United States and appeared with Anna Pavlova at the Palace Theatre in 1912. I wonder what she thought of him! She might not have liked his singing, but she probably approved of his appearance. He always dressed immaculately for the stage. His outfit included an opera cloak, top hat and tails and white gloves.

Whelan was the first person to use a signature tune - The Jolly Brothers - which he whistled at the beginning and end of his performance.

Albert Whelan died in 1961.

Here he is singing with his son Gordon at the piano.

Albert Whelan Sings My Secret Passion
I found this article the other day. I was so pleased to see that Lucile Duff-Gordon was vindicated by her former secretary for the role that she played in the escape from the ill-fated Titanic: 95-Year Old Letter Settles Titanic Controversy.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Substitute For A Spouse?

When I told my husband about the Teasmade, he asked: "Is that a subsitute for a spouse?" Surprisingly he hadn't heard of it even though he's English.

This handy invention which wakes one up with an alarm and the sound of hot water bubbling away was invented in Edwardian times. The first ones were heated by methylated spirits which set off the automatic striking of a match. Many fires were triggered by these, apparently.

The first patent for an automatic teamaking machine was granted to Samuel Rowbottom in 1892. He was an electrical engineer who helped invent the first armed tank with Fred Simms.

In 1902 the first commercial tea-making machines were made. They featured alarms clocks and kettles which tipped hot water into the cups. Goblin started mass producing the machines which they named the Teasmade in the Thirties.

They proved to be extremely popular and other brands such as Pye also began making the machines. By the late 60's over 300,000 units were sold every year. Sadly, they began to be regarded as old-fashioned and eccentric in the Eighties. They gained a reputation for 'naffishness'.

However, who wouldn't want to be woken up by the sound of water boiling and a soothing cup of tea? (Some strange people prefer coffee in the mornings - this blog isn't for them. Just kidding!) Recently, the Teasmade has returned to fashion. The latest machine made by Swan includes an illuminated LCD clock, an alarm, and even a reading light! The alarm souns when the water has finished boiling.

What do you do if you like milk in your tea? I don't think that that's been solved, unfortunately. You still have to put it in yourself!

Wood v. Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon

The famous designer, Lucile, was involved in a case which is very important in contracts law: Wood v. Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon.

Wood v.Lucy Duff-Gordon is an important case in the history of contract law.  It is still surprisingly controversial. 

The decision in Wood v.Lucy Duff-Gordon 222 N.Y. 88 (1917)  was a landmark in contract law.  It involved important rulings in what constitutes consideration and implied promise.  Justice Cardozo’s luminously written judgement is still studied by law students in many countries because the case set these important precedents and it is cited in many decisions.

Facts of Wood v. Duff-Gordon

The facts involved an agreement between Lucile Duff-Gordon, a famous Edwardian designer, and Otis Wood, her manager.  Duff-Gordon gave Wood the exclusive right to market her designs and place her endorsements on the designs of others.  He was to be entitled to half of the revenues that he made from this marketing.

Duff-Gordon made an exclusive agreement with Sears, Roebuck to have her dresses marketed in the Sears’ mail-order catalogue.  This was revolutionary for a designer who designed haute couture clothes.  Duff-Gordon was far-sighted in selling a ready-to-wear line in Edwardian times. She didn’t tell Wood about the agreement with Sears or give him any of the profits.

The decision of Wood v.Duff-Gordon

The lower courts found for Wood when he sued for breach of contract. The Supreme Court denied Duff-Gordon’s argument that there was no valid contract because there was no consideration involved.  She argued that Wood had not promised to do anything or given her anything in the agreement.  The  Appellate Division reversed this decision, and Wood appealed.    The New York Court of Appeals found in favour of Wood.

Justice Cardozo wrote in his famous judgement that there was an ‘agreement instinct with an obligation.’ There was a valid contract because there were mutual obligations – Duff-Gordon gave Wood exclusive marketing rights and Wood was entitled to half of the profits of any business that he completed according to the agreement. Even though Wood had not expressly promised to do anything, he had agreed to attempt to market Duff-Gordon’s designs.

Cardozo also found that there was an implied promise in the agreement.  Wood made an implied promise to use his best efforts to market Lucile Duff-Gordon’s designs and place endorsements for her. An important factor in this decision was that Wood had an organization which was capable of doing this.  Another factor was that Wood had agreed to give Duff-Gordon monthly accounts. 

Duff-Gordon had an obligation of good faith not to make marketing contracts with other people for the duration of her contract with Wood.  She had breached this by entering into a contract with Sears, Roebuck.

Justice Cardozo’s widening of the areas of consideration and implied promise were controversial because of his alleged judicial activism, i.e. not sticking to the express terms of the agreement.  He stated that: "the law has outgrown its primitive stage of formalism when the precise word was the sovereign takes a broader view today." There have been many essays for and against this decision.  The Pace University Law School even held a Symposium on ‘The Enduring Legacy of Wood v. Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon in 2009 attended by leading contracts scholars and fashion experts from as far away as Australia and England.


Kauffman, Andrew.  Cardozo, Harvard College, 1998
Today in History: Wood v. Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon
An Exclusive Licensee's Obligation to Use Reasonable Efforts in Placing a Product

Sunday, November 21, 2010

New Post Soon

I hope to have a new post here tonight. If not, it will be this week!

Tutor Vista Offers Affordable Tutoring Online

Tutor Vista offers school and college students online tutoring at affordable prices. Students can obtain help with many subjects from graduate tutors at any time. They can also schedule sessions regularly. Students interact with their tutors by using an interactive whiteboard on which they can post assignments, answer problems, and do other tasks.

Tutor Vista offers help with math questions, which can be very difficult. Students can also obtain geometry help. The organization also offers help with .prime numbers.

Many students also find chemistry and physics hard. Chemistry help and are offered. Physics help can be obtained.

Why not find out about Tutor Vista's tutoring today?

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Stunning Edwardian Actress

The Edwardian actresses are fascinating. Here is my article about Lily Elsie.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How Do You Measure Wealth?

Would you rather be middle class now or wealthy in 1910? Most people choose 1910. What The has a great article about this: How Do You Measure Wealth?

10 Awesome Blogs for Steampunk Designers

Steampunk is a fascinating combination of Edwardian technology and fashion and modern sensibility. I haven't made a study of it, but I enjoy reading about it. Here are some great links for those of you who like it: 10 Awesome Blogs for Steampunk Designers

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Chicago World's Fair Premier Attraction

When George Ferris invented his eponymous wheel he probably never thought that it would reach the height and sophistication of the London Eye. This popular London attraction reaches the height of 450 feet. Stunning views of London can be seen by riding on the London Eye which was designed by the London architects, Julia Barfield and Marks. They won the design competition for the millennium with their construction.

The organizers of the World's Chicago Exposition in 1893 wanted an attraction which would rival the Eiffel Tower which was opened in 1889. Ferris designed the wheel because he was inspired by the old Merry-Go-Round. When the young engineer, George Ferris, presented his plans for a giant wheel on which passengers could ride, he was regarded as crazy. Eventually the Committee gave in and granted the 32 year old permission to begin construction. He had only four months to have it built before the opening of the fair.

The christening of the first Ferris Wheel was a big event. Imagine the excitement of seeing this huge wheel all lit up in the brilliant Chicago night. VIP's dressed in ball gowns and evening clothes celebrated the occasion by drinking champagne and smoking cigars. Each ride was clapped.

According to Chicago: It's History and it's Builders, people thought that the Ferris Wheel would not be able to stand the strains that it incurred while revolving or that a severe gale would topple it. There were many fears about public safety and some people were very tentative about riding on the giant wheel.

However, the Ferris Wheel proved to be probably the most popular attraction at the fair. Passengers loved the wonderful view of the city, the lake, and the prairies which were visible from the wheel's height of 264 feet. Eventually 2,160 passengers rode on the wheel. Each ride cost fifty cents.

This Ferris wheel was eventually moved to the St. Louis Fair. It was also a popular attraction there. After that it was broken up for iron, which is a bit sad.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New Post Soon

I hope to write a new post about an Edwardian subject tomorrow!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Funeral Insurance Policies from Real Insurance

Arranging your funeral plans is a good idea. If you know that your loved ones won't have to worry about the expenses of the funeral one added burden can be taken off your mind. Funeral plans Australia can be made here.

Your family will also be covered by Real Insurance for any unexpected funeral expenses when you die. There is even a triple benefit of up to $45,000 for accidental death.

An instant quote can be obtained at Real Insurance. Prices for funeral insurance policies are very reasonable and start at only $1.72 per week, subject to certain conditions. A free information pack is available from Real Insurance and you can request a call from a customer service officer for help.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Atiya's Journey

This is an interesting article about a well-educated Indian lady's journal of her trip to England in Edwardian times: Atiya's Journey. I must buy the book!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Excellent Products at Cameras Direct

Cameras Direct has a wide range of photography products and a helpful and thorough web site. This is the place to buy a digital slr camera and there are many special offers available. The range includes the well-known brands, including Canon, Nikon, and Sony.

Cameras Direct also has tips and articles on how to be a better photographer. There are also free videos on various photography topics. Other features include long and informative reviews, which discuss the pros and cons of various cameras.

There are more than one thousand testimonials from satisfied customers on the Cameras Direct web site. The store certainly goes to a lot of trouble to please customers. The more expensive cameras and products are delivered overnight in Australia and postage is insured, for example. Longer warranties are also available. Why not ring today and ask for advice?

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Music-Hall Singer on the Goldfields

NB: This post is about a music-hall singer in the Victorian era. I wanted to write about Australian singers so I will include him.

Charles Thatcher has been described as 'the most acclaimed music-hall singer of the Australian goldfields'. This popular Englishman certainly led a successful and interesting life which varied from digging in the goldfields, singing, and importing.
He also lived in three different countries.

Born in Bristol in 1831, Thatcher was the son of a curio seller. When he was quite young the family moved to Brighton where his father ran a curio shop. Young Charles showed musical talent early - he learned the flute and played in London orchestras.

The seemingly easy fortunes to be made on the Australian goldfields attracted -Thatcher when he was only 21. He soon came to Australia on the Isabella. He quickly made friends and started digging. He was lucky enough to make one thousand pounds and decided to leave the hard labour of digging for gold.

Thatcher decided to become an entertainer in the music-halls. Although he apparently had a weak voice, he was handsome with broad-shouldered, clean-shaven looks. He also had a knack for writing humorous lyrics which he set to old songs. These qualities soon helped him become a success. He toured the goldfields with these songs.

The singer's lyrics concerned timely topics, such as the goldfields and cricket. He also sang political songs at times. Thatcher's comments about the gold commissioners and police were criticised. Thatcher regarded his songs as 'a popular history of the time'. He was nicknamed 'the Colonial Minstrel'.

When Thatcher was 30 he married a widow, Annie Vitelli, who was also a singer and entertainer. They had two daughters. The couple lived in Dunedin for some years where Charles continued to sing but they returned to Victoria.

They eventually decided to go back to England where Thatcher ran a successful curio shop, following in the footsteps of his father. He died of cholera in Shanghai, where he was on a business trip in 1878.

You can see a drawing of Thatcher here in the middle of the page:
Charles Thatcher

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Historic London Hotel

The Strand Palace Hotel is centrally located, still inexpensive, and full of atmosphere. I haven't stayed there, but I looked around and I liked this charming, old London hotel.

Last year the extensive renovation of the hotel was finished to celebrate the 100 year anniversary. One hundred years ago a single room with breakfast cost six shillings and sixpence! The hotel now features 24 hour room service, a carvery, a traditional English pub, and a business centre. These facilities make it a match for any modern hotel.

Art Deco features were added in the 1920's. Some of these can still be seen at the hotel, but others are at the V&A Museum. These include the 1930's entrance.

The hotel was popular as a night venue during the 1920's when the 'bright young things' did the Charleston, and members of the American forces also danced the night away at the hotel whenever they could.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Edwardian House

Would you like to renovate your house in the Edwardian style? This site has excellent tips.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Site of the Week: Fin de Siecle

“The fin de si├Ęcle may have been at once a swan song and a death-bed repentance…” ~Holbrook Jackson

The Fin de Siecle is a lavish site which is full of images of great paintings and information about the era. It also has articles about obscure illustrators, Edwardian magazines, and Edwardian fashions. I could spend hours at this site!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I have been neglecting the Australian music-hall singers! I will start off with Florrie Forde.

Florrie Forde was called 'the world's greatest chorus singer'. She was a quintessentially Australian music-hall singer with a broad Australian accent. She was proud of being Australian and helped other Australian singers, such as Billy Williams.

Forde, a Melbourne girl, was one of eight children. She had an unhappy home life and longed to go on the stage. When she was very young the ambitious girl ran away to her aunt in Sydney. She may have worked as an under-housemaid at Government House before being discovered by a theatre manager.

She began to sing and dance at the theatre and often appeared as a principal boy in pantomimes. She appeared at the Theatre Royal in Sydney. Forde also had seasons in Adelaide and Melbourne. She sang 'After the Ball' at the little Alhambra music-hall in Melbourne's Bourke Street for many weeks. She was also honoured to ride Tarcoola, the 1893 Melbourne Cup winner, onto the stage.

When Forde was only 21 the British comedian, G.H.Chirgwin, heard her and offered her a large sum of money for her work if she'd go to England. The irrepressible Florrie Forde agreed. She appeared on the stage at three music-halls on her first night!
She also continued to act in pantomimes.

Forde popularized the great songs: 'It's A Long, Long Way to Tipperary' and 'Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kitbag' during the First World War. She also sang 'Hold Your Hand Out, Naughty Boy' and 'Down at the Old Bell and Bush'. Forde made many recordings and had small parts in films. I also read that she had a club in Shoreham, Sussex, where she lived that was notorious for drinking and rowdiness. The neighbours apparently frowned on it.

One wonders what her husband, who was an art dealer, thought of the club.

Florrie Forde was very popular and had a wonderful stage presence. Even Melba praised her strong, clear voice. She said that: "Florrie's is a voice of true Australian quality."

Forde became very plump - she eventually weighed over sixteen stone. This may have contributed to her death at sixty-five in 1940. The music-hall singer collapsed and died after singing for patients at a naval hospital in Scotland.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Skirmish of Wit

I used to love looking at Skirmish of Wit. Now it's been protected and I can't visit it any more. It's very disappointing when that suddenly happens!

I miss Miranda's posts about touring historic houses, visits to the theatre, and books that she'd read. I used to look at it a lot.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cleo de Merode, An Edwardian Beauty

Here is my article on the beautiful Cleo: Cleo de Merode

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Luxurious London Ritz

Edward VII was painted there. King Alfonso of Spain stayed there. Even James Bond stayed in a sumptuous room overlooking Green Park in the movie, Diamonds are Forever.

Lady Furness famously asked her friend, Wallis Simpson, to take care of the Prince of Wales in the hotel. Wallis took a little too much care of him, to Lady Furness's chagrin!

The Ritz, which opened in 1906, has always been a favourite of royalty and the wealthy. The seven-storey building was designed by the architects, Charles Mewes and Arthur Davis, to resemble a Parisian chateau at the height of the Belle Epoque. It was also the first large building in London to have a steel frame.

Ritz managed the hotel for a long time and placed the famous French chef, Escoffier, in charge of the meals. It must have been wonderful to dine at the Ritz in those days or stay in one of the rooms furnished in Louis XVI style. The beautifully restored rooms have gold leaf mouldings, chandeliers, and marble fireplaces.

If you can't afford to stay at the Ritz, perhaps you can take Afternoon Tea in the gorgeous Palm Court.

Tutor Next's Math Tutoring

Tutor Next is an excellent online tutoring service which provides online tutoring to K-12 and college students at a cheap rate. Students can try the service for free before deciding to use it, by using the online demonstration.

Tutor Next delivers personal tutoring to students. Their tutors can provide math help with exam preparation, math questions, and the various types of math problems.

Tutors from the service will deliver excellent homework help for students at their own place and during their own time. They will help with difficult questions and individual math problems.

Tutor Next provides students with algebra help, calculus help, and physics help.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tudor Vista Offers Math Tutoring

Tudor Vista offers online tutoring for K-12 and college students for only $99.00 per month in all subjects. They have an online demo which enables first time users to try the service for free. Students can have live chats with tutors in any subject that they choose.

Tudor Vista helps students to identify an acute triangle, for example, by providing diagrams and questions about acute triangles. This is invaluable for a math student. The service also helps students with such difficult concepts as line segments and indices.

You can also learn about the diameter of a circle
and the definitions of algebraic expressions.
The tutors at Tudor Vista can also help you with the square footage calculator.

Tudor Vista is the perfect way for K-12 and college students to learn in their own place and in their own time at a cheap price!

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Most Luxurious Hotel

(The Savoy Hotel by Strollerdos at

Little George loved staying at the new Savoy Hotel in London. He sometimes pushed the buttons in the elevator if the elevator boy let him, and the hall porter sometimes let him take care of the guest's top hats. Little George's mother, the great Nellie Melba, also loved it and held many fabulous dinner parties there.

Richard D'oyly Carte built the Savoy to accommodate tourists and out-of-towners who traveled to London to see the theatre and the sights. He had managed Gilbert and Sullivan and spotted a niche in the market. He also wanted to expand into a new business.

The Savoy, built in 1889, was extremely luxurious because D'oyly Carte wanted to attract wealthy Americans who were used to the best in their own country. The hotel was the first in the British Isles to have electric lights in every room, and it also boasted new Otis elevators. D'oyly Carte employed the best people for his grand hotel, including the great Ritz and the famous French chef, Escoffier. The great chef introduced haute cuisine to Great Britain. Escoffier delighted Madame Melba by inventing a new recipe, Peche Melba, for her.

Since then many famous people have stayed at the Savoy. Monet painted there. Edward VII met his mistress, the beautiful Lily Langtry, at the hotel. The young Princess Elizabeth made her first public appearance with her handsome beau, Prince Phillip, at the Savoy. A grand Coronation Ball was held for her after she became Queen.

The luxurious hotel is undergoing an extensive renovation which is costing over 200 million pounds. It is due to open later this year with the celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay, in charge of the Savoy Grill. A suite will cost over 2000 pounds. Unfortunately, I won't be staying at the Savoy any time soon!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Marie Studholme

Marie Studholme was another Edwardian stage beauty who appeared in musical comedies and was also on the stage of music-halls.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lottie Collins

Read about Lottie Collins, who made the song 'Ta-ra-ra-Boom-de-re' famous here:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

New Posts

I've been very busy this week, but I hope to write new posts next week!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Ingenious Mr.Tich

Harry Relph was only a little over four feet tall with six digits on his hands and toes. This didn't worry him very much, however. Other people would have considered these characteristics disadvantages, but little 'Mr.Tich' used them to his advantage in his bright career.

The sixteenth child of a 77 year old Kent publican, Harry Relph was born in 1867. He soon decided that he wanted to go on the stage. At the tender age of 12, he was aa 'blackface' singer in one of London's remaining pleasure gardens,
the Rosheville. He soon started singing in the music halls, starting at the Middlesex

He decided on the name of 'Mr.Tich' because of the Tichborne Claimant. This man claimed to be the heir to an ancient baronetcy, but the real heir was lost at sea. The claimant weighed 25 stone, so Mr.Tich chose the name to emphasize the differences between them. It was catchy and short, and turned out to be a wise choice.

Mr.Tich's act was alternatively grotesque and hilarious. He became famous for impersonating many different kinds of people, including grocers, fairy queens, and Spanish dancers. He also satirized famous people, such as Louie Fuller.

One of his most popular acts was the one in which he danced on boots that were almost half his size. They were 28 inches long. Audiences loved to see him balancing on these tall boots.

Mr.Tich was very popular in Paris as well as London. He appeared at the Folies Bergere in Paris many times. The French honoured him by admitting him to the Academie Francaise.

Mr.Tich's Boot Dance

Monday, June 21, 2010

Yvette Guilbert and The Wit of the Staircase

The French call the sharp and witty retort, l'esprit de l'escalier, which means 'the wit of the staircase'. Yvette Guilbert was a past master at this, apparently.

She attended Marguerite Charpentier's salon, frequented by the wealthy and the famous. One of these grand ladies recognized her. According to The Private Lives of the Impressionists by Sue Roe, this grand lady exclaimed: 'My dear...I bet you don't remember me. We used to meet often a long time ago, before you became a star, when you were still a little seamstress.'

'Of course I remember,' replied Guilbert. 'I'll never forget how difficult it was to get you to pay your bills.'

The Fast Set

Art and Architecture, Mainly has written a fascinating post about this: The Fast Set in Edwardian Times. The comments are also interesting!

I don't agree that being an aristocrat in Edwardian times was boring.

St.Paul's in 1905

You can see a photo of St.Paul's in 1905 here at History Pin. This site is a great idea!

Online Auto Insurance

Do you need insurance for your motor vehicle? You can save money by obtaining quotes on the Internet. The cheapest way to get insurance for your car is probably by buying it online. If you type your postcode into the box at Online Auto Insurance you will be provided with a list of quotes to choose from.

It's a great idea to get lots of quotes, but it is also best
to look into other ways of saving money on your car insurance.
Online Auto Insurance provides lots of articles and tips about buying insurance and saving on your car insurance. You can also ring them up if you need extra advice.

According to one article at Online Auto Insurance, for example, you can save money on your vehicle insurance by driving smartly. This involves avoiding collisions, and avoiding distracting activities, such as using your mobile phone while driving. If you have a good driving record, you should be able to save on your insurance.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Another French Music-Hall Star

The beautiful Yvette Guilbert was another star of the French music-halls. She led an interesting life - she began by singing risque songs and then she became quite a scholar!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Anarchist Singer

Aristide Bruant cut a dashing figure in his red scarf, black velvet jacket, matching red shirt and boots. In his portraits by Toulouse-Lautrec, he is the epitomy of the Bohemian 'artiste'.

Born in Cortenay in 1851, the young Brunt grew up in a middle-class family. When his father died when he was just 12, however, he had to come to terms with poverty and join the workers. He became a jeweller's apprentice at 12. After that he worked for the Northern Railway's Company. He started travelling to Paris where he found another world - a world of music-halls and clubs that he wanted to join.

The young boy with stars in his eyes left home at just 15. He started his own singing and comedy act which impressed the club, Chat Noir. He was engaged by the club and eventually became its manager. Bruant changed the name to Le Mirliton.

The handsome singer became very popular. He dabbled in anarchist politics and sympathized with the struggles of the workers. He wrote songs that have been called 'narratives of poverty and prostitution'. These were called 'naturalist songs' and were in the same tradition as Zola's great realist novels about life on the streets and the sorrows of the working-class and poor.

Bruant's audience was mostly middle-class and he loved to insult them. He called them names like 'pig' and 'prostitute'. Whenever a woman came in, she was greeted by an audience chorus of: "Oh, How pale she is." Surprisingly, the audience loved all this.

The only person that he greeted nicely was his great friend, the artist Toulouse-Lautrec. When he came in, Bruant told the audience to welcome the 'great artist'. Bruant was one of the artist's first friends and helped his work become known. He commissioned a portrait for his poster for the club, Les Ambassadeurs, which is still one of Lautrec's most famous paintings.

Aristide Bruant was a great showman, who became a star of Montmartre, and made a lot of money. He eventually retired to run a farm, but he made a brief return to the stage at 73. He put on an act at the Empire Theatre and made a gramophone recording.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

New Post

A new post will be up soon. Sorry for the delay!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Music Hall Women and Gaiety Girls

Who was The Flying Arrow? What was a 'masher'? Where did the term 'stage-door Johnnies' come from? Find out by listening to Music Hall Women and Gaiety Girls.

I had trouble listening to this programme because the file is a RAM file. I found this helpful: How to Convert RAM Files to MP3.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Caroline Reboux

Caroline Reboux was nicknamed 'The Queen of the Milliners' in the Edwardian era.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Toulouse-Loutrec's Favourite Dancer

The lithe redhead captivated the audience with her dancing. They liked her beauty charm and grace. Yet they found her melancholy.

Jane Avril had good reason to be melancholy. She had had to overcome great odds to achieve her dream of becoming a successful dancer. She had had very inauspicious beginnings.
Born in 1848, Avril was the daughter of La Belle Elise, a society girl, and Count Luigi di Font, a nobleman. Her father was mostly absent and her alcoholic mother beat her and even wanted her to be a prostitute.

Unsurprisingly, Avril ran away from home. She was picked up by the police who thought that she was insane and placed her in Paris's famous Salpatriere Hospital. Here she was put into the care of the nuns and Charcot, the expert on women's 'hysteria'.

Luckily, the nuns and Charcot discovered that the young girl loved to dance and determined that she was not insane. They released her at 16. Avril didn't return to her mother, however. (Who could blame her?)

She became a rider at the Hippodrome and a cashier at the World's Fair but she really wanted to dance. Eventually she became a dancer at the Moulin-Rouge and then the Jardin de Paris. The artist, Toulouse-Lautrec, identified with the young woman's sadness and used her as his model for many posters. They became good friends and shared a love of intellectual society. Avril was cultured and liked to mix with great writers such as Paul Verlaine. There is even speculation that Lautrec fell in love with the slim redhead.

In 1895 Avril seized her chance. She was offered a lot of money to replace Louise Weber, who was retiring. She accepted and became a lead dancer at the Moulin-Rouge. She even toured London.

In 1910 at the age of 42 Avril married the journalist, Maurice Blais. He was unfaithful and didn't have much money. After he died she was penniless and died in a nursing home.

Toulouse-Lautrec's art has made Jane Avril, with her sad look, her grace, and her flaming red hair, immortal.


I was delighted to find this site devoted to Jane by Craig: Jane Avril of the Moulin Rouge Here you will find a detailed biography and interesting links.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Since we last met I've walked around the Golden Mount in Bangkok, been lost in beautiful San Gimignano, lamented being snowed in in Venice, and had a sleepless night on a train from Venice to Paris. I apologise for being away for so long but I had a lovely holiday.

I hope to write about Jane Avril, the famous singer of the Cafe Concerts soon.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thirza Cove: A Brave Suffragette

This is an interesting article about a domestic servant who became a suffragette: Thirza Cove.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hotels and Hospitality Management Library of NSW TAFE

The Hotels and Hospitality Management Research library provides resources to assist in the study of hospitality management, including the showing of global hotel pricing using the Cheaperthanhotels booking tool .

The Hotels and Hospitality Management Library of NSW TAFE has many useful links for students. These include links to hospitality management websites, accommodation websites, and websites about the environmental management of hotels.

Students studying hospitality management and tourism should be able to find most of the resources that they need at the TAFE library. It is an extremely useful website

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cafe Chantants

The original cafes chantant (concert cafes) were probably quite enchanting. They consisted of performers (often singers)entertaining audiences in outdoor cafes in France. These first began as long ago as the eighteenth century. Eventually they evolved into famous 'music-halls', such as the Folies Bergere.

The cafes chantant were extremely popular in the Belle Epoque. They had become rather dark, smoky, crowded places by then and the atmosphere was probably a bit rough and unpleasant. They were very popular with the working-classes and aristocratic young men looking for a good time. (The hero of Colette's Cheri comes to mind.) Theodore Child wasn't impressed with the cafes chantant. He found them 'inept and stupid.' He describes the Parisian cafes of 1889 here: Parisian Cafes.

The concert cafes soon became popular in other countries. They began in Italy in the 1890's. Here is a description of the

Cafe Margherita in Naples.

Singers at the cafe chantants included Lina Cavalieri and Yvette Guilbert.

More refined concert cafes became very popular amongst the English aristocracy and the American upper classes during Edwardian times. Often cafe chantants were staged for charity. I would have liked to attend this .
charity evening.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Music Hall Wars of 1907

(This is a poster designed to canvass support for the strike. Wikimedia Commons)

In 1907 there were no standard rules for employers and workers in the crowded and smoky music halls. Contracts were variable and the courts were filled with law suits between the workers and employers. The Variety Artistes Federation was formed in 1906. By 1907 the Federation, designed to improve conditions, had almost 4,000 members.

The final straw for artistes came in 1907 when many music-hall owners demanded additional shows for little or no extra money. Artistes, musicians and stage-hands at over 22 variety theatres decided to go on strike.

The most successful music-hall star in Britain, Marie Lloyd, was sympathetic to the plight of the workers. She understood that she was in a position to negotiate for better conditions but many of the people who worked in music-halls weren't.

The music hall owners tried to break the strike by engaging acts that were not well-known and retired workers. The union decided to picket the theatres. When Marie Lloyd saw a girl that she knew she shouted, ""Let her through girls, she'll close the music-hall faster than we can."

Eventually the dispute was referred to arbitration at the Board of Trade. Surprisingly, this was suggested by the author, Somerset Maugham. The Board solved the issue by holding hearings involving more than 100 witnesses and several meetings. The music-hall workers received more money and they were granted a guaranteed minimum wage and maximum working week.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lucile Duff-Gordon

Lucile Duff-Gordon was a famous British dress-designer who was in the same class as Madeleine Vionnet and Paul Poiret. Her designs have recently been re-discovered. Here is my article about her: The Designing 'It' Girl.