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MRS KENDAL'S RECOLLECTIONS., Issue 8041, 18 October 1889
MRS KENDAL'S RECOLLECTIONS.
EARLY STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPHS. [From Ocjr Special Correspondent.] London, August 30. following closely in tho footsteps of Mrs Bancroft, the buxom actress who was once *'little Madge Robertson" -commences in ' Murray's' for September a series of papers partly reminiscent, partly critical. In the initial, instalment she records soros interesting recollections of her theatrical career. I attach a few extracts': ■ Mrs Kendal comes of a family of actors jpur sang. Both my father and mother (she «ays) were on the stage, so were my grandfather and grandmother, so wero my greatgrandfather and great-grandmother, so were my great-aunts, and uncles, my simple aunts and uncles, my brothers, my sisters, my nephews, my nieces. I hardly have a relation in the world that hasn't been on the stage, except the new-made knight, Sir William Tindal Robertson, the member for Brighton ; but his father, my uucle, was an actor for acme years. TOM ROBERTSON. My brother Tom, the author, was my father's eldest son. I am sorry to say I did not play in any of his comedies, in none of what is considered his best work. I played in 'Dreams' at the Gaiety. I often hear my brother's work spoken of as " The Bread and Butter School." Bread and butter ! but what good bread and butter ! How fine the flour 1 How carefully kneaded, and always served hot from tho bakehouse! Then the butter! How fresh and sweet, what an excellent color, what delicate pretty pats, with just enough salt to give it a rich, delicious flavor! And then, again, how well the butter was spread over the bread—just enough, no more. And this bread, like all good home-made loaves, was all the better for the keeping. Everybody must eat bread and butter, then how necessary these commodities should be wholesome and pure ! We Robertsons never speak of Tom without calling him " Napoleon," for his " Bread and Butter School' was the coup d'Ctat to many things. MRS KENDAL'S FIRST APPEARANCE. It was at Mr Chate's theatre, at Bristol, •where her mother was acting, that Madge Robertson made her first appearance on the etage, as Eva in 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.' "At the end of the play I used to be carried up to Heaven with Undo Tom. I was put in a kind of machine, something was put round my waist, and I went up in a sort of apotheosio, as in ' Faust and Marguerite.' I remember, too, that all my hair was let down my back. I was very fair when I was a child. You can imagine that as one grows older hair gets darker if Nature is not interfered with. When I was about fifteen Mr Wild, who was a partner of Mr Buckatone at Bradford, came and heard ra« sing, and insisted on engaging me for tho burlesque boy's part of Rasselas. Mr John O'Connor was the scenic artist. He used to do painting on his own account. I said to him one day t 'Mr O'Connor, when I am rich I shall buy a picture from you;' and the first L 5 I ever spent on a picture was in buying a bit of still life of his, which now hangs in my drawing room. At thin time I used to play parts in the first piece, the burlesque boy's part in the second, and then I sang, and nobody could discover whether I was going to be an actress or a singer, or what my future was to be. I was told I was ' going to be something,' and perhaps the most tangible result of the prediction was that during this period of my life I began to earn LlO a week. I was very glad and happy, because I then took my father and mother off the stage, and never allowed them to act again. I had for some time been very anxious to do this. One day an old actor had come off the stage and said * God bless my soul, Robertson has forgotten his lines again !' I thought ' They shall work no more.' From that time my father and mother never acted again."
BLACK HANDS AND WHITE. After leaving Bradford I came to London, and played for six weeks at the Ilaymarket Theatre with Mr Walter Montgomery. During the time that I was there Mr Ira Aldridge was engaged to Mr Ira AldrMge was a man who, being black, always picked out the fairest woman he could to play Desdemona with him, not because she was capable of acting the part, but because she had a fair head. Oce of the great bits of "business " that he used to do was where in one of the scenes he had to say " Your hand, Desdemona." Ho made a very great point of opening his hand and making you place yours in it, and the audience used to see the contrast. He always made a point of it, and got a round of applause—how, I do not know. Although a genuine black, he was quite preux chevalier in his manners to women. The fairer you were, the more obsequious he was to you. In the last act he used to take Desdemona out of bed by her hair and drag her round the stage before he smothered her. You had to wear sandals and toed stockings to produce the effect of being undressed. WANTING TO THROW MR PHELPS INTO THE HUMBER. At Hull I played Lady Macbeth with Mr Phelps. " The reason I played Lady Macbeth was that there was nobody else to play it, except a very old lady. Mr Brough told Mr Phelps that he had better take me, as, whether I could do it or could not, I had at that time so completely got the Hull people to like me that they would forgive me anything. I was put in a garment of my mother's. I went on, and was received tremendously, and, having been taught by father, I suppose I got through it somehow and was vociferously cheered. I was called over and over again. Mr Jfhelps did not take me before the curtain. Why should he ? When we went on again, he was greeted with the most tremendous cries of 4 Bring her out!' As my father was standing at the wings he was sent for, and a young man out of the gallery, of enormous size, came round and said to him : "Ay, Mr Robertson, if thou say'st t'word I'll duck him in t'Humber; he's not brought on our Madge.' My father had to take Mr Phelps out of the front dooi to avoid the galleryboys throwing him in ' t'Humber.'" WHY MR and MRS KENDAL ALWAYS ACT TOOETHEK. I have ofton betu asked, I may say by thousands, both in letters and in conversation, as a matter of interest by my friends and from curiosity by others, why j my husband and I always act together, and , have never been parted. I wish to state to the public why it is so. My father was an actor who said ho believed that the greatest amount of domesticity and happinesß in a life devoted to art could exist upon a stage, provided husbands and wives never parted. If, on the contrary, a man, because he could earn LlO a week more, went to one theatre, whilo his wifo for a similar reason went to another, their interests tended to become divided; their feelings ran in separate grooves, and gradually a shadow would grow up at home which divided them for ever. On my expressing awish that I should marry an actor, he said that only on this condition would he allow me to marry my husband —that we should never be parted. Mr and Mrs Charles Kean always acted together, and she endorsed my father's words. If my husband and I had been separated; if he had played parts to other women; if other women had played parts to him, and I to other men and other men to me, there is no doubt that certain go-ahead Deople would have preferred it, and we Bhould probably have been worth thousands of pounds more to-day; but, on the other hand, there is another section of the public who Bay they like to see us act together; that the very fact of knowing we are man and wife gives them a certain satisfaction in witnessing our performance, which they would not otherwise feel. That, however, I must leave for the public to decide; as far as we are concerned, however, it was a vow made to my father, from which my husband has never departed ; and if, when we are dead, we leave our children less money, let us hope they will respeot what we have done. Letters have boen written to me, and friends have come to me and argued the point, Baying it would be more interesting to see another man embracing me. Where the interest comes in, I do not know. Also that it would be infinitely more fascinating if somebody else acted with my husband. I believe there is a little sort
of story going forth that the reason of all this is to be fonnd in tho existence of a peculiar green-eyed monster in Mrs Kendal's heart. Poorlady. It is a blessed gift; that her shoulders are broad, because I have found that, if a woman haß lived muny years happily and creditably with her husband, enmo r-nnnnn nr rnnannu must, llfi fiven.
MRS KENDAL'S RECOLLECTIONS., Issue 8041, 18 October 1889
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