A Glosso-graph Series postcard published by Misch & Co. of London E.C. The photography was by the Dover Street Studios of London W. The image is a glossy real photograph.
Why Lewis has three fluffy toy mice running down the sash on his toga I can’t even begin to speculate.
The card was posted in Brighton on Tuesday the 10th. March 1908 to:
Miss E. Isaacs,
3, Western Road,
The pencilled message on the divided back of the card was as follows:
"How do you like
Love to all,
Mr. Lewis Waller
William Waller Lewis (3rd. November 1860 – 1st. November 1915), known on stage as Lewis Waller, was an English actor and theatre manager, well known on the London stage and in the English provinces.
After early stage experience with J. L. Toole’s and Helena Modjeska’s companies from 1883, Waller became known, by the late 1880’s, for romantic leads, both in Shakespeare and in popular costume dramas of the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
He attracted a large number of female admirers, who formed themselves into a vocal and conspicuous fan club. He also tried his hand at management of tours in 1885 and 1893, and then became an actor-manager at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket in the mid-1890’s.
Waller remained an actor-manager for the rest of his career, both in London and on tour.
Despite his commercial success in Booth Tarkington’s ‘Monsieur Beaucaire’ and Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘Brigadier Gerard’, Waller greatly preferred acting in Shakespeare, in which his roles ranged from Romeo to Othello.
Among the roles he created was Sir Robert Chiltern in Oscar Wilde’s 1895 comedy ‘An Ideal Husband’.
Lewis Waller – The Early Years
Waller was born in Bilbao, Spain, the eldest son of an English civil engineer, William James Lewis, and his wife, Carlotta née Vyse. He was educated at King’s College School in south west London, after which, intending to pursue a commercial career, he studied languages on the Continent. From 1879 to 1883 he was a clerk in a London firm owned by his uncle.
After acting in amateur performances, Waller decided to make a career on the stage, and was engaged by J. L. Toole in 1883. His first role was the Hon. Claude Lorrimer in H. J. Byron’s ‘Uncle Dick’s Darling’, in which he was billed as "Waller Lewis".
By May of the same year, he had adopted the stage name Lewis Waller. In that month he appeared at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in a charity matinee for the Actors’ Benevolent Fund with Toole’s company and such contemporary stars as Rutland Barrington, Lionel Brough, Arthur Cecil, Nellie Farren, George Grossmith, Henry Irving and Ellen Terry.
He remained in Toole’s company for a year, playing light comedy and juvenile parts. During this year, he married a young actress, Florence West (1862–1912).
He joined a touring company, playing the central role, the blind Gilbert Vaughan, in ‘Called Back’ by Hugh Conway.
Waller returned to London in March 1885 to play at the Lyceum Theatre in Helena Modjeska’s company, as the Abbé in ‘Adrienne Lecouvreur’, and then toured with her, playing such roles as Mortimer in ‘Mary Stuart’, and Orlando in ‘As You Like It’.
The Manchester Guardian said of the latter:
"He kept Orlando properly ingenuous,
and made him a taking and gallant
Towards the end of 1885, Waller ventured into management for the first time, touring a production of ‘Called Back’, taking the role of Dr. Basil North, in which The Manchester Guardian thought him:
"A trifle too melodramatic".
The tour was modestly successful, but not such as to lead Waller to mount further productions for some time.
Waller returned to the West End, working for a succession of managements. At the Strand Theatre in early 1887, he played Roy Carlton in ‘Jack-in-the-Box’, which his biographer describes as his first substantial success in London.
At the Opera Comique he played Ernest Vane in ‘Masks and Faces’, and Captain Absolute in ‘The Rivals’. At the Gaiety Theatre he played Jacques Rosney in ‘Civil War’.
Waller then joined William Hunter Kendal and John Hare at the St. James’s Theatre, where he played the Duc de Bligny in ‘The Ironmaster’, Sir George Barclay in ‘Lady Clancarty’, and Lord Arden in ‘The Wife’s Secret’.
When Rutland Barrington took over the management of the St. James’s in 1888, Waller played George Sabine in ‘The Dean’s Daughter’, and Ralph Crampton in ‘Brantinghame Hall’.
Rudolph de Cordova, in a 1909 biographical sketch noted:
"During this period, few theatres
played regular afternoon performances,
so that the actors were, for the most part,
engaged only in the evening. Many
matinees were, however, given to introduce
new plays and new players; and in this way
Mr. Waller acted a large number of new parts,
all of an ephemeral character."
In particular he played several Ibsen roles in these matinees in the early 1890’s, bringing him to the attention of people of influence in the theatre such as William Archer, Jacob Grein and Bernard Shaw.
Waller played Oswald in ‘Ghosts’, Lovborg in ‘Hedda Gabler’, Rosmer in ‘Rosmersholm’ and Solness in ‘The Master Builder’. The ODNB commented that:
"Archer was delighted that an established
West End actor had contributed to the Ibsen
revival, but was aware that Waller could
overcome neither the play’s inadequate
rehearsal period nor his background of
florid West End performances."
Lewis Waller – The Later Years
In October 1893, Waller returned to management, mounting a tour of Wilde’s ‘A Woman of No Importance’, in which he played Lord Illingworth. The Manchester Guardian called it:
"A tolerable travelling company in
which nobody gains great distinction."
Returning to London, Waller, in partnership with H. H. Morrell, leased the Theatre Royal, Haymarket while its regular tenant, Herbert Beerbohm Tree was on tour in the US. He began with the premiere of Wilde’s ‘An Ideal Husband’, playing Sir Robert Chiltern in a cast that included his wife as Mrs. Cheveley, Julia Neilson as Lady Chiltern and Charles Hawtrey as Lord Goring.
Waller and Morrell remained in management until 1897, when Tree invited Waller to join his company at the newly rebuilt Her Majesty’s Theatre.
Waller remained with Tree for three years, playing a wide range of roles, including romantic leads in popular costume dramas and, in Tree’s lavish Shakespeare productions, Laertes in ‘Hamlet’, Brutus in ‘Julius Caesar’, Faulconbridge in ‘King John’ and Lysander in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.
After leaving Tree’s company, Waller returned to management. Although he loved playing Shakespeare, adding the roles of Romeo, Othello and Henry V to his repertoire, for commercial reasons he was best known as the star of swashbuckling romances. He was particularly identified with the title roles in the stage versions of Booth Tarkington’s ‘Monsieur Beaucaire’ and Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘Brigadier Gerard’. He starred in a film of the latter in 1915.
The critic Hesketh Pearson praised Waller for:
"His good looks and virile acting,
and his vibrant voice which rang
through the theatre like a bell and
stirred like a trumpet".
Waller had a large following of enthusiastic women fans, who formed a club known as the K.O.W. [Keen On Waller] Brigade. Pearson lamented:
"The puerile nature of the plays he
usually put on, and the adolescent
behaviour of his female admirers,
prevented many people from
appreciating his superb gift as a
declaimer of Shakespeare’s rhetoric,
and frequently exposed him to ridicule."
In 1911 and 1912, Waller made a tour of the US, Canada and Australia. In his absence his wife died. His last play was May Martindale’s ‘Gamblers All’, which opened at Wyndham’s Theatre, London in June 1915, with Gerald du Maurier and Madge Titheradge co-starring.
The Manchester Guardian called the production:
"A personal acting triumph
for Lewis Waller".
The Death of Lewis Waller
After the West End run, Waller took the play on tour, during which he contracted pneumonia, from which he died in Nottingham two days short of his 55th. birthday.
The Greenwich Yacht Club
So what else happened on the day that Trickster posted the card?
Well, on the 10th. March 1908, Thames watermen and river workers founded the Greenwich Yacht Club in the Yacht Tavern in Greenwich. For many years the club met at the tavern.
Later the Clubhouse was situated on the beach adjacent to the current clubhouse. Originally, it was a beached Thames Sailing Barge named "Iverna", then later a hut on the Mudlarks beach.
In more recent times the club was based in what is known as the "Old Clubhouse" at the end of Riverway. That site was acquired by English Partnerships, as part of the preparation for construction of the Millennium Dome, and in exchange English Partnerships provided the club with new facilities on the previously redundant Peartree Wharf.
The New Clubhouse
Greenwich Yacht Club took occupation of the site early in November 1999 with a temporary clubroom in what is now the Wedding Venue. The new clubhouse was opened in June 2000.
The residential building directly behind the club has been named Iverna Quay, as a reference to the beached Thames sailing barge ‘Iverna’.
The new clubhouse is the only building built in the Thames itself which is raised upon stilts above the waters below, and is open to the public each year as part of the London Open House.
The complex includes an engineering/machining facility, sail loft, woodworking facility, an indoor work area with a capacity for two or more boats, and a wedding and conference venue.
There is also a three storey clubhouse situated on a dolphin in the tidal Thames reached by a bridge from landside. A dolphin in this context is a man-made marine structure that extends above the water level.
The complex is disabled access friendly. The club has more than 400 members, and caters for cruiser sailors, dinghy sailors, motor-boaters and rowers.
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