The more successful actresses of the Edwardian era could earn a great deal of money, enough indeed not to need to be seeking work all the time. They had sufficient financial security to be able to spend time away from the stage devoting their time to other pursuits. Some made sallies into the realms of management; some devoted their spare time to leisure pursuits like boating, horse-riding, golf or motoring in the newfangled automobiles; others retreated to country cottages to enjoy the solitude they could not get in the big cities; and many became involved in promoting the work of charities for the benefit of those less fortunate than themselves.
In 1905 for example, a number of actresses took part with other society ladies in a hugeley successful charity bazaar in benefit of the Charing Cross Hospital in London, raising a total sum in the region 17,000 pounds. A refreshment stall run by the American actress Mrs Brown-Potter alone raised around 2,500 pounds through society gentlemen paying exorbitant sums to quench their thirsts. This was only one of many good causes supported by actresses of the time.
Below is reproduced an article from a period publication relating to a two day charity event in which a number of actresses (and actors) took part - in benefit of "Our Dumb Friends' League" (no, not a charity for Manchester United supporters, we're talking horses here).
The Playgoer and Society Illustrated, Volume 2, Number 10. October 1910.
A Country Fair
on behalf of "Our Dumb Friends League"
Despite the unpropitious weather on both days of the Fair at the Botanic Gardens, Regent's Park, on July 1st and 2nd, there was a good attendance, and the proceeds, which go to "Our Dumb Friends' League," should be well up to the average. Even with both days wet a sum of about £1,600 was raised, while the net amount derived from the" Country Fairs" in the previous four years just averaged £1,5O0 a year.
|The Opening Ceremony|
The "Fair" was opened on July 1st by the Duchess of Portland, who for some weeks had been energetically concerning herself with its promotion. The Duchess has not only, as is well known, a kindly and sympathetic feeling for poor humans, but also, like her husband, a great love for animals, and the poor broken-down horse claims her special pity. One of her great hobbies is the Home of Rest for Horses, another is "Our Dumb Friends' League," and her interest in the latter secured the assistance at the "Country Fair" of a large number of Society people.
Katharine Duchess of Westminster opened the fair on the second day, and Sir John Clifton Robinson presided. On both occasions the opening was signalled to the public by the firing of a rocket - quite a novel idea. Among those interested in the fete, and who were present on one of the two days, were the Duchess of Beaufort, the Duchess of Bedford, the Duke and Duchess of Teck, and Princess Marie Louise of Bourbon. The latter was president of the Good Luck booth, and had with her Miss Janotha, whose celebrated black cat "White Heather" was very much admired, and was no doubt the means of many donations finding their way to the collection box. The Duchess of Portland was president of the Flower booth, where was also Mrs. Leopold Albu. An attractive booth was the miscellaneous stall, in charge of Princess Lowenstein Wertheim, who had quite a host of assistants; whilst the miscellaneous booth was under the presidencv of the Ranee of Sarawak, others here being Mrs. Henry Ash and Miss Ash, and Mrs. O'Donnell.
Very handsome looked Mrs. Claude Watney, who was at the Thatched Cottage, where cigars and cigarettes were sold with the able assistance of Mr. Maurice Farkoa, Mr. Lambelet, and Mr. Claude Watney. Another much frequented stall was the book booth, notwithstanding the fact that when people are on amusement bent they do not as a rule trouble about literature. Here Lady Warwick, Mrs. Gertie de S. Wentworth-James, and Mrs. Maud Churton Braby, with a number of assistants, did brisk business. One of the greatest centres of attraction was the Parisian novelty booth, presided over by Miss Lily Elsie. In the Conservatory the clever artists at the Cafe Chantant and the Stella Theatre attracted many customers, as also did the roundabouts and music and picture postcards booth, which was in charge of Miss Margaret Cooper, with a number of business-like assistants.
Lady Ormonde was president of the Irish booth, where was also Lady Donegall, the assistants including the former's handsome unmarried daughter, Lady Constance Butler, Lady Alice Mahon, Lady Dorothy Walpole, Lady Edward Spencer Churchill and her daughter, Mrs. Ben Bathurst. Here little Lord Donegall, the youngest Marquis in the peerage, collected on behalf of "Our Dumb Friends' League" Animals' Hospital. At the French provisions booth pretty Lady Townshend had her sister, Miss Marjorie Sutherst, and Dowager Lady St. Levan, Lord Townshend's aunt, Lady Tenterden, Mrs. Adrian Hope, Mrs. Ponsonby, Miss Jacquelin Hope, and Miss Violet Stopford were all down as assistants. Other stall holders were Dowager Lady Guilford, Lady Duckworth, Lady Clifton Robinson, the Countess of Kinnoull, the Countess of Warwick, Florence Lady Clarke-Jervoise, Lady Collen, Lady William Lennox, Lady Evelyn Ewart, Lady de Rutzen, Lady Parsons, and Lady Malcolm of Poltalloch, who with the Duchess de Lousada had the "Horse Ambulance" booth.
|The Horse Ambulance|
The Horse Ambulance is perhaps the one that appeals most to the public of the many schemes initiated by "Our Dumb Friends' League" for benefiting "those that cannot speak for themselves." Through the prompt arrival of the ambulance on the scene of a street accident the sufferings of many an injured horse have been alleviated. The ambulance, too, has been the means of saving numerous equine lives, as before "Our Dumb Friends' League" thought of the humane idea the badly injured horse was as a rule quickly despatched in the street without being given a chance of recovery.
Most of the leading actresses and actors were to be seen there. Miss Violet Vanbrugh, Mr. and Mrs. Hayden Coffin, Miss Phyllis Broughton, Miss Phyllis Dare, Miss Decima Moore, and Miss Margaret Cooper held stalls; Mrs. Jack Harrison, as in previous years, had charge of the American Bar, assisted by a score of ladies, and also by Mr. Boriani, of the Pall Mall Restaurant, so noted for his American cocktails.
Mr. Arthur J. Coke, the secretary, is an admirable organizer of a bazaar or charity fete, for he makes it his strict rule that visitors shall not be pestered to buy, whereby he invariably secures a very large attendance. Thanks to his tact and energy the League is not only known all over the country, but is one of the most favoured recipients of Royalty's and Society's patronage; which is as it should be, for the object of the League to encourage kindness to animals must appeal to every right-minded person. The League has 16 horse ambulances, an animals' hospital, six shelters for stray cats, and this year it has granted 600 dog licenees in deserving cases. None the less it is most urgently in need of funds, and subseriptions or donations will be most gratefully received by Mr. Arthur J. Coke, secretary, "Our Dumb Friends' League," 118 Victoria Street, S.W, The editor of the PLAYGOER AND SOCIETY trusts that a word to the charitable will be sufficient!
A worthy cause, but please no donations, subscriptions closed, oh, around ninety-six years ago.