Recently bought on eBay, this vintage photograph is roughly the size of a cabinet card. Unfortunately it has been trimmed and part of the signature is missing, but the 1911 census helps to identify her as Blanche Forsythe, an English actress born 1873. She made her name in various theatrical productions and later in silent films.
Blanche signed the 1911 census (Class: RG14; Piece: 7283; Schedule Number: 34). She lived with her mother and two brothers in Tottenham, London at the time of the census and gave her occupation as ‘actress’.
In the above photograph Blanche is dressed as Trilby O’Ferrall from a stage adaptation of the novel ‘Trilby’ by George Du Maurier (published 1894).
The following interview is taken from the Leigh Chronicle and Weekly District Advertiser, 31 July 1896. In it, the interviewer asks Blanche to compare herself to another English actress Dorothea Baird, who also played ‘Trilby’ around the same time. Blanche is unfazed, saying that neither is “better than the other”:
During the 1910s, Blanche was cast in various silent movies including title roles in ‘Jane Shore‘, ‘East Lynne‘ and ‘Sixty Years a Queen‘. Coincidentally she also played the part of Ustane in the film adaptation of ‘She‘ by Henry Rider Haggard, an author I have previously come across while writing this blog. The IMDb website has more information about Blanche’s film success.
I have searched but am yet to come across any other clear photographs of Blanche Forsythe on the internet. If anyone knows of any, please contact me!
Update (January 2018)
Thank you to Debbie for contacting me and sharing information. Debbie has brought my attention to the BFI Player, where Blanche Victorine Forsythe can be seen in a small number of early films. In particular, in 1915 Blanche stars as Sal in ‘Heart of a Coster’ (3’25”), and as Peggy in ‘The Lure of Drink’ (from the beginning). Both are well worth viewing!
I particularly like cartes de visite that have photographs taken outside, such as the one above. I am struck by the natural lighting, and how the baby appears to be wriggling causing mum to hold on tightly.
This second image shows two men posing on a stile. It’s as though they are taking a break during a walk. The photograph is badly faded and I had to do some processing to bring any detail out (including a thumbprint in the middle!).
This third and final image looks as though it might also be outdoors. In a back-yard perhaps? To me, the lighting is different to the previous two. So perhaps it is a photographer’s studio, set up to look like the outside.
A pity, then, that all three cartes de visite are unmarked and the photographers unknown. That might at least have provided a clue.
Recently found, this photograph of a young girl in a lacy outfit is presented on a rather battered board with the name ‘Irene M Hargreaves’ written on the back.
Alongside it was a cabinet card of a girl wear a similar hat and dress:
The handwriting on the back of this second photograph is more difficult to read, but my best guess is “Doris Mary Sandoe, aged 2 1/2 years, 1895”. According to census data a Doris/Dora Sandoe was born in Broadclyst, Devon c1893, the daughter of surgeon John Worden Sandoe. Is this the same Doris?
And where did Irene and Doris get their wonderful hats?!
Printed on thin card this is a vintage copy of a photograph by W. Heath & Co., Plymouth. It is signed by ‘Edward Clarke’, who was a Victorian barrister and Conservative politician born in 1841. He took part in a number of famous legal case, representing Oscar Wilde in 1895 and (in a separate case) cross-examining the Prince of Wales in 1891. He was knighted in 1886 and lived into his 90th year.
Several other portraits of Sir Edward Clarke can be found on the National Portrait Gallery website.
I recently came across a batch of small vintage photographs, depicting gruesome scenes that immediately intrigued me. Scanned and enlarged I realised they were mostly of model figures. On the back of one is written ‘Tiger Gardens, Singapore’ and another mentions ‘Chinese Gardens’. So I leapt onto the internet (what did we do in the days before Google Search?!) and soon found information about Haw Par Villa, Singapore, aka Tiger Balm Gardens.
According to Wikipedia, the gardens opened in 1937 and remain open today. I would guess that these images were taken in the 1950s. One is labelled “Another pleasant pastime – the Bandwagon!” and another, which makes me smile, says “Would you say he is happy at his work?!”.
During my search I also came across the following video, with similar images set to music… enjoy!