27 Nov

Elusive Names and Brick Walls.

Allanna Brough, Archive

I had a lovely morning yesterday, working in the garden enjoying the weather…and then the rain came. So I decided to get on with a different kind of digging. I sat down with a cup of coffee and began to look through some of the earliest Campbeltown Courier Adverts. One advert for a Grand Concert in 1899 caught my attention. Phrases like “Midget Boxing Act”, “Brilliant Soprano”, “Military and Descriptive Vocalist”, and “Renowned Conjuror” leapt out at me. Who were these people, what kind of career did they have, where were they from and just how famous were they?

I looked at numerous theatre, music hall, magic club and conjuror web sites, newspaper archives, census returns, passenger lists, etc. and four hours later, I was no closer to discovering who these people were. Being performers, they probably used stage names so finding a birth/marriage/death record is impossible unless you know their real name. Unless they were really famous and travelled, there is very little out there in newspaper archives to find.

However, just as I was about to call it a day, I found a listing for the “Brilliant Soprano” who was part of a female duet. This led to another listing of the two women as dancers and singers. A bit more digging and I found the “Brilliant Soprano” appearing as a Burlesque Artiste!

The brick wall is still standing minus a few bricks…time for more digging.

Image credits
1.) ‘Grand Concert and Cinematograph Entertainment’  (21st January 1899, © Campbeltown Courier)

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