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December 2008

Welcome to the Christmas issue of FTF Magazine. This month we are focusing on the acting profession and featuring stories about members’ theatrical ancestors. 

 Georgette looks into the history of the profession from its humble Mediaeval beginnings through to the spectacle of the Victorian theatre and the 20th century, whilst Marjorie Dawn examines the history of the pantomime. Look very closely and you may spot a familiar good fairy! The acting profession is renowned for its uncertainty, so Velma Dinkley tells us why the union, Equity, is important to the industry. She also looks at the life and works of Charles Dickens, the author of  ‘A Christmas Carol’.

 After whetting our appetites last month, samesizedfeet brings us her dramatic dynasty of theatrical ancestors who were the celebrities of their time, and Merry Monty Montgomery shares the story of her distant relation, Annie Horniman, the founder of the repertory theatre movement. We also have stories from Ann from Sussex, perth tiger and Chrissie Smiff. 

 As genealogists, we are often asked if we have discovered a famous relation. quiffdo was able to make a connection to the actor, writer and director, Sir Bernard Miles, while jennie was able to confirm that her husband was related to Sam Hardy, the early 20th century England goalkeeper. We also take a look at Glyndebourne, home to the annual opera festival, and Gwynne explains why a piece of lava is so very special to her. 

 Wishing all our readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

The Editors

Once Upon a Time

The Christmas Pantomime is a peculiarly British tradition. Although they are occasionally seen in former British colonies, and are often performed abroad by nostalgic ex-pats, other nationalities are rarely amused by girls playing boys, men playing old women and...

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Behind the Curtain

From the early medieval mystery plays through to Shakespeare and the beginnings of modern theatre, plays, and the people who performed them, have held an important place in history and therefore in the lives of our ancestors. "All the world’s a stage, and all the men...

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A Dramatic Dynasty

My great x5 grandfather, George Alfred Hodson, was born at the end of the 18th century in Dublin. He became a teacher of music but also composed songs for operas and music halls, as well as singing and acting. George married quite young to an actress called Catherine...

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Impresario and Philanthropist

On the 1901 census, John Percy Mitchelhill was 21 years old and still living at home with his parents and sisters in Kentish Town, London, with his occupation recorded as 'Commercial Clerk'. This information gives no clue as to the path his life would take in London’s...

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An Actor in Repertory Theatre

My uncle, Reginald Morley, known as Reg, was born in 1921 and joined the local Hucknall drama club in Nottinghamshire as a very young man in about 1935.  He started along with Robin Bailey, who went on to appear in plays, films and television right up until his death...

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A Thoroughly Modern Woman

Annie Elizabeth Fredericka Horniman was born in 1860, into very wealthy surroundings. Her father was the Quaker tea merchant, Frederick John Horniman, who would later be Liberal M.P. for Penryn and Falmouth and a member of the London County Council. He was also the...

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By Golly

My journey into the theatrical world started when my new found grandad came to visit me for the first time. After he saw my mother for the first time in 42 years, we went out for drinks to catch up on what each had been up to. Now, there's never a good time to...

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The Acme of Versatility

Mildred Hammond was born Mildred Sidebottom on 27th May 1903 in Rothwell, West Yorkshire, to Albert Sidebottom and Ethel Hammond. She was the first of their three children. My grandad, Norman, was their second child and my aunt, Ethel, was the youngest. By 1921 the...

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Charles Dickens

If anybody is asked to name a book connected to Christmas, then I think that most people would say 'A Christmas Carol' by Charles Dickens. The novel was first published just before Christmas 1843 and was an immediate success. At the time festive traditions were in...

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Glyndebourne Opera House

Glyndebourne is a 700 year old country house just outside the historic town of Lewes in East Sussex. Since 1934, it has been the venue for the annual Glyndebourne Festival Opera. The house was built in the 15th century and has been altered many times since. It was...

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Safe and Steady Sam

I decided to draw up a basic family tree for my mother-in-law for her 50th birthday. I had remembered her talking about her grandad being friends with a famous footballer, Samuel Hardy, and that they were related, so I started to research their connection, although my...

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My Family Treasure

When I was about 6 years old I was 'helping' Dad tidy the garage. Amongst the dusty boxes I found a box full of rocks and asked him about them. I had uncovered his fossil collection, begun when he was a boy of 8 or 9. He showed them to me and named each one and where...

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