Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Sarah Bernhardt (1841 - 1923) - French Actress

According to British Journalist Cecil Roberts, who was a First World War Correspondent, the great French actress Sarah Bernhardt toured Britain raising funds for the French Army in 1916.  Sarah was by then in her seventies and had had a leg amputated two years before.   Wherever Sarah Bernhardt went, ‘The Divine Sarah’ played to packed houses, in spite of the fact that most of the British audience did not understand a word of French. 

Sarah Bernhardt also entertained the troops on the Western Front in the ‘Theatre aux Armees’.  She gave a matinee performance at a Liverpool Theatre, in front of “everyone of eminence in the city”, in ‘Mort au Champ d’Honneur’, which Roberts described in detail.  She played “the part of a young (French) officer, dying, who was carried wounded from the battlefield and deposited beneath a tree.  At his request they brought a French flag to him and holding it in his hands he apostrophised the survival and glory of France”.  After many curtain calls, the stage had become ‘a flower garden’, such was the appreciation of the British public.   After the performance, Roberts was able briefly to meet the great actress backstage, an honour he never forgot.     

‘The Years of Promise’, Cecil Roberts (Hodder & Stoughton Ltd., London, 1978), pp. 127 - 128
Photo:  Sarah Bernhardt on the Western Front during WW1 with two companions and some French officers.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Seeking women artists for an exhibition about Eleanor Rathbone (1872 - 1946) - British MP and campaigner for women's rights

The Rathbone Studio in Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral is organising a special commemorative exhibition and calling for women artists who would like to take part.

Eleanor Rathbone was born in London.  She was a member of the famous Rathbone family of Liverpool, of which the actor Basil Rathbone was also a member – he and Eleanor were cousins.

During the First World War, Eleanor organised the Liverpool Town Hall Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Organisation and also formed the ‘1918 Club’ which apparently still meets. She also campaigned for the introduction of family allowances to be paid to mothers.
In 1919, on the retirement of Millicent Fawcett, Eleanor took over as President of the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship, championing the rights of women.  She was a member of Liverpool Council and a Member of Parliament.

2016 marks the 70th anniversary of Eleanor Rathbone’s death. To celebrate her life, the Rathbone Studio in Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral is holding an art exhibition inspired by Eleanor Rathbone, for women artists and is seeking entries.
The exhibition ‘Eleanor, an Inspirational Woman’ will open on Saturday 30th April and run until Saturday 11th June. Open Tuesday - Saturday 2.00pm - 5.00pm. There will be a special opening on Friday 29th April 4.00pm - 7.00pm. Submissions should be in by 16th April

Please get in touch if you would like to be part of this exhibition.
The exhibition is part of the ‘Remembering Eleanor Rathbone’ events that are being held locally and in London. Please see website for more details: https://rememberingeleanorrathbone.wordpress.com/