Friday, September 23, 2016

Fashion Friday #11: A Streetcar Named Desire

Vivien Leigh arrived back in the United States on August 1st, 1950, at the Idlewild Airport (now JFK), in New York. She was on her way to Hollywood to begin filming A Streetcar Named Desire. Vivien had originated the role of Blanche on the London stage and would now play her in the movie version. After meeting up with her new director, Elia Kazan, the two of them traveled by transcontinental train to California, stopping off in Wisconsin for a quick visit with her good friends, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne.

Vivien Leigh and reporters, August 1950
Vivien Leigh and Elia Kazan arrived in Pasadena on August 6th. Vivien stepped off the train, looking as young and relaxed as the day she started Gone With the Wind, with a huge smile on her face and white sunglasses in her hands. “Gadge and I have gone over the script line by line in New York and on the train coming out here,” Vivien told reporters. Gadge was Kazan's nickname.

Elia Kazan and Vivien Leigh
The outfit Vivien chose, to meet and greet everyone, was a two-piece silk ensemble, gray with yellow polka dots, with a full skirt and topped off with a jaunty little hat. She wore the same outfit on multiple occasions, a habit she started with the rehearsals for the London stage version of A Streetcar Named Desire.

When asked whether or not she and Olivier would be staying in the states for an extended duration, she replied,  “Our stay must be limited because we have to return to England to prepare for the great national drama festival, which is the centenary of one held in 1851. It is an event that will fulfill itself in all branches of entertainment, and we both hope to contribute to it as notably as possible. Therefore it will require much time and effort in preparation. Mr. Olivier could not accompany me, because he was concerned in England with the opening of a new play, but as soon as the London premiere is held, he will fly to Hollywood. I expect his arrival next Sunday. He has signed, of course, for a picture at Paramount, the adaptation of Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie.”

Olivier arrived in Hollywood a week after his wife, on August 13th, accompanied by Vivien’s daughter, Suzanne Holman. Vivien and William Wyler greeted the pair at the airport. Olivier showed off his new mustache for his upcoming movie, Carrie. After embracing, Vivien told reporters, “I can’t get used to his mustache. He felt he had better wear it until Mr. Wyler had determined whether or not it would be right for the picture.” Olivier admitted to not liking the mustache. The couple also admitted to reporters that they “would like to tour America sometime on the stage…”

“I never see Larry when he’s writing and directing, so I’m delighted that he’ll just be acting in Carrie Ames for Willie Wyler and Paramount. Even with both of us busy, we may have some time together.”

Another person brought over from the play's Broadway production was costume designer, Lucinda Ballard, who would later receive an Academy Award nomination for her costume designs for the movie. One of the things I most enjoy about Blanche's clothing is that Lucinda seemed to have captured Blanche's very being with her designs. She used soft feminine lines with delicate layers of silk, chiffon, lace and ruffles, reflecting Blanche's fragile state of mind and flirty girlishness.

The first costume from A Streetcar Named Desire is this blue number. The blue chiffon gown has what appears to be a faded covering of pink chiffon, with a ruffled collar and cuffs. Blue silk trim runs through the ruffled collar, ending in a bow at the bodice. The trim also runs through the sleeves' ruffled cuffs.

Vivien wears this gown in several scenes throughout the movie. Here she's pictured with Karl Malden.

Here's another photograph of Vivien wearing the blue dressing gown, captured in a light-hearted moment during a break in filming. She's posing with Gary Cooper, whom I cropped out to get a close-up view of Vivien's costume.

The second costume from A Streetcar Named Desire is this pink dressing gown. This particular robe was auctioned off a few years ago as part of the Debbie Reynolds collection. The pink and ivory silk gown features embroidered silk flowers on the chiffon sleeves with a ruffled collar, cuffs and bottom trim. The auction's catalog noted that the gown was in very fragile condition and that its original color had been hot pink.

Here's Vivien wearing this pink gown, in a scene with Karl Malden. 

It's also the outfit she wears when she tells Karl Malden (in that incredible scene) she wants magic, not realism. I don't want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I do misrepresent things. I don't tell truths, I tell what ought to be truth. And if that's sinful, then let me be punished for it!

Here's a screenshot of Vivien, again in the pink gown, and Karl together right before he turns on the lights! Both Vivien and Karl won Oscars for their performances: she for Best Actress and he for Best Supporting Actor.

Thanks for joining me for today's Fashion Friday post!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Fashion Friday #10: House of Balmain

On Tuesday, October 25th, 1960, Vivien Leigh arrived in Cherbourg with her companion and fellow actor, Jack Merivale, aboard the Queen Elizabeth liner from New York. The two were fresh off the stage from co-starring in the play, “Duel of Angels.”  Vivien stepped off the Queen Elizabeth wrapped in a pale mink coat, with pearl and gold bracelets visible at the cuffs. Vivien’s fur baby, Poo Jones, also accompanied the couple.

Upon disembarking, the couple were asked about their romance.  "You know I never discuss my private life," she said. "John and I-- why, I've known him for 25 years, since we were both young things, struggling to make our names in London. He is a wonderful person." Jack was asked about a possible marriage between the two of them. "Good heavens! That's very flattering, but I'm not going to say anything about it." The couple left Cherbourg for Paris in Vivien's blue Rolls Royce.

While in Paris, they stayed at the Hotel Raphael-- in separate rooms, of course. The couple visited one of Vivien’s favorite designers, Pierre Balmain. Her purpose in visiting was twofold: 1) Balmain would be creating her clothes for The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone and 2) she wanted something new for her personal wardrobe. At the House of Balmain, Vivien tried on approximately a dozen dresses. She finally settled on a dress with a matching coat, after Jack gave his approval of the outfit by saying, “That’s the one, darling. You look wonderful.”

Jack and Vivien attended the opening night of the ballet, La Belle Au Bois Dormant (aka Sleeping Beauty), on Thursday night. The play was produced by the Marquis de Cuevas and held at the Theater des Champs-Elysees. Cuevas was quite ill and attended the show’s premiere in a wheelchair.

Vivien wore her new ensemble from Balmain’s to the premiere, while Jack wore a classic tuxedo. Vivien's matching coat and dress were both made from the same red patterned, satin, material. The coat featured a collar with lapels, which ended just at the dress’ bodice. The coat’s sleeves were three-quarters in length. The evening dress featured a wrapped bodice, with a low cut V.

Jack and Vivien are pictured leaving the ballet. I know this isn't the best quality, but I wanted to share anyway, to show off the full length of the dress. 

Thanks for joining me for today's Fashion Friday post!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Little Miss Echo

Must She Always Be Little Miss Echo?
by Hubert Cole, originally published in 1940

I doubt that anybody would deny that the biggest screen role-- of the past ten years has been that of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind. It would be strange wouldn’t it, if the girl who eventually got the role after so much heated competition, should eventually be killed by it?

That, I believe, is just what is happening. Miss Leigh, having scored one success with Scarlett, is going to echo and re-echo the role down the ages until everybody is thoroughly sick and tired of it. Unless something is done to stop it.

I am not blaming David O. Selznick, who cast Miss Leigh as Scarlett. The rot had set in some time before that. You can trace the Scarlett character back to A Yank at Oxford. That was the time when Vivien, having played two or three colourless ingénues in quota quickies, and then having been signed up by Alexander Korda with a fanfare of windy trumpets to play another colourless role in Fire Over England, first appeared as an unprincipled hussy.

She was, if you remember, the flirtatious wife of the elderly bookseller. She had so many affairs with the local undergraduates that her long-suffering husband at last decided to move his business. But, as she triumphantly announced, they were only moving to Aldershot. It was a very nice and naughty performance, that one in A Yank at Oxford. Her wide and innocent blue eyes contrasted attractively with her less innocent behaviour. She was a kitten with fully grown claws.

On the strength of that performance she was chosen to play the ambitious Cockney girl in Sidewalks of London. (It’s funny how blurbs of publicity follow Miss Leigh around-- as in the later Gone With the Wind campaign, there was a great deal of hullabaloo about finding an entirely new discovery, which ended up with Vivien Leigh getting the part.)

The girl in Sidewalks of London was as determined and unscrupulous as the bookseller’s wife in A Yank At Oxford. She was a little more open about it. She was at less pains to hide the fact that she would ride rough-shod over any obstacles, any ordinary feelings of kindness or gratitude.

And so we come to Scarlett O’Hara. Scarlett belongs to the select few heroines in literature who are intensely interesting and intensely unsympathetic. She is an American Becky Sharp.

She has ambition without principles, strength of purpose without conscience. She was a greater, more detailed study of the girl that Vivien Leigh had already played in A Yank at Oxford and Sidewalks of London. It was as if those two previous roles had been nothing more than a preliminary tryout for the final one.

If, indeed, they had been that --and if the course of training had ended there-- all would have been well. A monster production like Gone With the Wind might conceivably call for two test pictures to give the leading lady practice. But the three pictures together, and the triumph that Vivien scored in the third, seem to be her undoing. She is typed as the tough girl; the outward seeming sweet young thing with the callous core.

That, I am convinced, is why she was cast opposite Robert Taylor in Waterloo Bridge. Somebody, looking round for a subject for Vivien’s next picture, said: “Heck, why not Waterloo Bridge? That was all about a prostitute, wasn’t it?”

And Vivien, who is allowed to have no moral scruples on the screen, was given the part. As it happens, the girl in the story isn’t primarily a prostitute-- and is even less of one than she was in the earlier version, made before the purity campaigners got such a firm hold on Hollywood.

Actually, Myra in Waterloo Bridge is a very charming young woman, though an extremely foolish one. She becomes a prostitute not through willfulness or lack of moral sense, but because she is rather stupid.

That role might have been the opportunity that Miss Leigh was waiting for. It might have been the lucky accident that would have formed a stepping stone from the past series of unsympathetic roles to a new future of more pleasant ones. It might have removed the threat that she is condemned to play Little Miss Echo for the rest of her screen career.

But I’m afraid it hasn’t. Here she is now, off again down the path of mottled morals, playing Lady Hamilton to Laurence Olivier’s Nelson in the new film Alexander Korda is producing in Hollywood.

I’m not quite sure why Korda should be making the film at this time. There is obvious publicity value in the teaming of Olivier and Vivien; there is obvious topical value in the story of a great British admiral; but there is also the strange emphasis (as far as one can judge from the advance pictures) on the intrigue with Lady Hamilton and Nelson’s strange conduct in Naples-- a very unsavoury phase of his career.

And I suspect that the primary reason why he chose the subject was that Miss Leigh is still under contract to him and he thought Lady Hamilton a sufficiently immoral character to suit Miss Leigh’s style. For Korda, like the rest of the producers, apparently now believes that Miss Leigh has only one style.

Perhaps he is right. He should know more about her work than I do. But Waterloo Bridge, at any rate, seems to suggest she can play a young woman of good impulses and healthy outlook as well as she can the other kind. It may not be entirely the fault of the producers and casting managers that Miss Leigh has travelled so far away from the sweet young thing that she used to be in her early stage and screen days.

Two years ago, for instance, she said in an interview: “Quite a number of people were surprised when I appeared as a vamp in A Yank at Oxford, and took an unsympathetic part in Sidewalks of London. But in both cases, I felt that the roles were interesting and out of the rut. Since the films have been completed and shown, the letters I have received have proved I was right. Most of these letters say how glad the writers are that I have not confined myself to pretty heroine characters.”

To that insignificant statement you can add the story, recently published, that long before Gone With the Wind was ever made-- and certainly long before Vivien was approached to play the principle role-- she gave a copy of the book to a friend and autographed it from Scarlett.

In itself, the incident means little, except that Vivien not unnaturally saw herself in a role which was bound to be one of the most important on the screen. But set beside what she said in the interview, it seems to point clearly to the fact that she herself had a preference for unsympathetic roles-- and believes that the film going public likes best to see her in such roles. I believe she has been misled-- both by herself and her correspondents.

There is no doubt she takes her career seriously and laudably aims at becoming a great actress. It is true that many great actresses have played unsympathetic parts and created great reputations in them. It is also significant that, in one of her earliest and worst films, The Village Squire, she played Lady Macbeth.

All the way through, perhaps by chance and perhaps by choice, she has veered toward near villainy, she has appeared as a cold and calculating hussy.

There have been patches when she was just a normal, nice young woman-- but she does not seem to have been particularly interested in those roles. Unfortunately, she has some reason to despise them, for they were parts of no great value: the lady-in-waiting in Fire Over England, for instance, and the heroine in Dark Journey-- though the film itself was pleasant enough.

So, by avoiding being “confined entirely to pretty heroine characters,” she seems to have dug herself into an equally treacherous rut. If I have accused her wrongly of willfully going unsympathetic on us, I am sorry. If, in fact, she is fighting against such typing, I am doubly sorry-- that she has had so little success recently.

There is a great deal of danger in stereotyping her in unpleasant parts. It is difficult-- probably impossible-- for a young actress to become great if she confines herself to unsympathetic roles. Unless Vivien Leigh breaks clean away from Scarlett O’Hara and all the other minor Scarletts, I fear she is going to find herself in the middle of a lot of grief.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Versatile Laurence Olivier

Article originally published in 1941

Versatile Laurence Olivier Stars With Vivien Leigh In "21 Days Together"
Laurence Olivier, whose latest success is as Larry Darrant in "21 Days Together," was born on May 22nd, 1907, in Dorking, Surrey, where his father was a clergyman. Laurence's early education was for the ministry, as it was thought that he would follow in his father's footsteps. The Rev. Gerard Olivier was interested in the drama, and he took his small son to see all the great stage celebrities of the day.

Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh in 21 Days Together

 His early schooldays were spent at a choir school in London, from where he went to St. Edward's, Oxford, and he distinguished himself there in pre-clerical subjects. He had become interested in the stage when his father took him to the theatre, and as he grew older and studied the personalites of the various people with whom he came in contact, he longed to dramatise the different characters he met. Eventually he told his father that he wanted to go on the stage. Some clerical fathers might have been upset to hear their son express such a wish, but the Rev. Olivier promptly transferred his son from the pre-ministerial St. Edward's to the Central School of Dramatic Art. His ministerial studies had groomed Laurence well in English and vocal training, and he had made one appearance on the stage when he was fifteen years old, at the Shakespearean Festival Theatre in Stratford-on-Avon; in a special boys' performance of "The Taming of the Shrew."

Laurence Olivier in The Taming of the Shrew, 1922

On London Stage
Before his period of schooling was over, he had played on the London stage. One of the early engagements was with the Birmingham Repertory Company, and he also toured in "The Farmer's Wife." Prior, to this, he had had a very lean time trying to convince casting agents that he was an actor His money got as low as seven shillings and sixpence and he was faced with a bill for a month's rent. He was determined to make good on his own and refused to ask his family for any financial help. Sybil Thorndike, who had known him as a child, secured a walking-on part for him. To gain experience he played in Sunday night shows whenever the opportunity presented itself. Even when important parts came his way, Laurence still played in as many Sunday shows as possible, and among them he created the part of Captain Stanhope in R. C. Sheriff's "Journey's End." When the play was put on at a public theatre he was offered the role, but he chose another offer which had come his way, that of playing the lead in Basil Dean's production of "Beau Geste."

Beau Geste

Two of Laurence Olivier's early stage roles were in Shakespearean productions and today the immortal bard is his favorite playwright. He feels, however, that Shakespeare's work can never be suitably adapted to motion pictures. His only experience with Shakespeare off the screen was as Orlando to Elizabeth Bergner's Rosalind in "As You Like It." He has, of course, played many Shakespearean roles on the stage, and critics have said that these have made him the superb artist that he is.

Visits America
In l929 he paid his first visit to America, playing the role of Hugh Bromilow in "Murder on the Second Floor." He made a sensational success in New York in this play, and it brought him many film offers, all of which he turned down. When he was back in England, however, he decided that he would have a try at a film career. His first picture was made in Germany and it was entitled "The Temporary Widow." He always smiles when he recalls his first day's work at the studio.

Too Many Crooks

He then played in the British films, "Too Many Crooks" and "Poliphar's Wife," and while he was experimenting with picture work he was still carrying on his stage career. It was about this time that he played in "After All," with Elissa Landi, and "Private Lives," with Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence. When the latter play went to New York, Laurence and Jill Esmond, to whom he was then married, went too. They were seen by screen talent scouts and were signed to go to Hollywood. Laurence's first American film was "Friends and Lovers." Then came "The Yellow Passport," in which he renewed acquaintance with Elissa Landi, followed by "Westward Passage," with Ann Harding.

Numerous Films
He returned to England at two days' notice in order to play opposite Gloria Swanson in her first British picture, "Perfect Understanding." Shortly after this he was signed to play opposite Greta Garbo in "Queen Christina," and he dashed off to Hollywood once more, only to find that the role had been given to John Gilbert. So back he went to England. His films since then have included "No Funny Business," "Moscow Nights," "Fire Over England," "The Divorce of Lady X," "Q Planes" and "21 Days Together."

Fire Over England with Vivien Leigh

He went back to America to play the part of Heathcliff in "Wuthering Heights," after which he was sensationally successful on the Broadway stage opposite Katharine Cornell in "No Time For Comedy." His performance in Wuthering Heights," witnessed by producer Selznick, led to his casting in the part of Maxim de Winter in Rebecca," followed by "Pride and Prejudice." Olivier has brown hair and eyes and is five feet ten inches in height. His marriage to Jill Esmond ended in divorce early last year, and soon afterward he was married to Vivien Leigh. He has always been studious, and while not at work on stage or screen he continually reads. He is an ardent devotee of gardening, at which occupation he takes most of his outdoor exercise. He does, however, also swim and ride.

Versatile Actor
Laurence is a versatile actor. He can play irresponsible youth, romantic leading men and tragic roles with equal ease. Despite the fact that he has gained great success with one or two gloomy roles, he would prefer to play comedy. Give him a gay part any day, he says.

No Time For Comedy (from Getty Images)

He is rather a silent individual, but nobody at the studio ever accuses him of being "high hat." In fact, he has his prankish moments. He is not a bit interested in seeing his name constantly in the papers; in fact, he will tell newspaper men, whenever they endeavour to interview him, that he is a boring fellow. He refuses, too, to go to places where the publicity people feel he ought to be seen because press photographers will be lurking around. The publicity department at the studio finds him quite a difficult problem at times.

In "21 Days Together," which commences a Hobart season at the Strand Theatre next Friday week, Olivier is co-starred with Vivien Leigh. Taken from the exciting works of John Galsworthy, the film has been described as one of the year's best romantic dramas.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

How Shakespeare's Skull Was Stolen

How Shakespeare's Skull Was Stolen is a rather titillating story, first published in 1879, by a literary magazine called The Argosy. The story takes place circa 1794, some 178 years after William Shakespeare's death. It was published anonymously by someone simply calling himself a Warwickshire man.

The story centers around a man named Frank Chambers, who hears that a collector once offered 300 guineas for the skull. Though Shakespeare's grave is marked with a curse, Chambers decides to steal the skull anyway.

Translated into today's english, it reads:

Good friend for Jesus' sake forbear,
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blessed be the man who spares these stones,
And cursed be he who moves my bones

History buffs, scholars and Shakespeare lovers have been debating whether this is a true story or complete fiction since its appearance in 1879. Here's the story, as it was originally published:

Chapter I
The Origin Of The Plot

     I seldom pass the sleepy-looking "Bear" Inn, originally the "Bear and Ragged Staff" (the cognizance of a branch of the Warwick family, who lived at Beauchamp's Court near here), in the town of Alcester, without calling to mind a remarkable interview which took place some eighty years ago in  connection with the front room on the right-hand side of that quaint Jacobean entrance. And now that Mr. M., the only person likely to be affected by this disclosure, has passed away at the age of 75, I no longer feel hesitation in transcribing from rough notes and memoranda made and collected by him, a series of facts which may startle all those who, like myself, reverence the very dust of the immortal bard.
     That Shakespeare's skull was stolen admits, I think, of very little doubt; yet I must not anticipate, but endeavour to trace "this strange eventful history" from its beginning.
     The uncle of the late Mr. M., a youth who bore the name of Frank Chambers, was placed with a medical man (the only one practising in Alcester) about the year 1787. He was a wild, rather dashing young fellow; not bad looking, if a portrait taken in after years be evidence; and, coming straight from attendance at a London hospital, found the exclusive society of a small town uncongenial, and its restraints irksome. Owing to a certain mild escapade-- the manuscript alleges that it was nothing more heinous than a practical joke upon the curate in charge at the tumble-down old rectory-- he found it convenient to leave Alcester and to go abroad; and as Englishmen did not then dream of a trip to America or to Australia, his wanderings were confined to France. The heart of the French nation was then beginning to throb with the feverish heat of revolution, and "gentlemen of the pave" had already defined liberty on the "lucus a non lucendo" principle.
     Frank Chambers, like Arthur Young, was a strict observer of the national moral bankruptcy, and three of his letters from Rheims show that he was not deceived, like some greater minds among his own countrymen, by the tendency of thought and action in France at that remarkable period. When one hundred thousand Frenchmen were compelled by the murderous hatred of an ignorant mob, and by the destruction of their stately chateaux, to flee in haste, there was "no room of safety" for a son of perfide Albion. Frank returned to England, during what year I know not, but in a letter written from London, without date, he mentions the exceptional severity of the winter, which probably was that of 1791.
     Again he came to Alcester, and, assisting his former employer, was well known in the neighborhood as a jovial, light-hearted fellow.
     Two or three years pass without record, until he mentions the arrival of Lord William Seymour on a visit to his brother, Lord Hertford, at Ragley Hall, a splendid mansion overlooking, like a haughty custodian, the quiet little town.
     Frank Chambers became acquainted with Lord William, although there could be little fellowship between the harsh, penurious, and eccentric habits of his lordship and those of the incipient surgeon. But the intimacy was of this advantage to the latter: that it proved the introduction to the excellent and sometimes notable company which the newly-created marquis gathered round him at rare intervals at his Warwickshire seat. It also leads to that startling adventure which until now has been as secret as the grave.
     I have more than once questioned the late Mr. M. as to its precise date, but he assured me that, although his uncle kept a rough diary at intervals, half professional, half domestic-- extracts from which are before me, wherein even such trivial matters are entered as: "Aug. 4th. Rode over to the 'Love Cup,' at Alne, where I had a quart of Barlum perry. Saw Jim Morris; he has a fine colt at the Mill pasture." "March 8th. Drove the doctor to a consultation with Dr. Brandis at Hinley" (query, Henley-in-Arden)-- the year is seldom given, or even the month.
     He seems, however, to have taken some pains in recording observations made by men of mark at Lord Hertford's table, and found especial pleasure in describing the good things with which that table was furnished, mixing, as in Tom Hood's sonnet, sauce and sentiment with concise impartiality. Thus he writes: "When Garrick was at Ragley, some years ago, Lord Hertford says that he gave a comical performance in the steward's room for the amusement of the servants and others; and he told his host afterwards that one of the audience was as _____ hard to unlace as the old Speaker_____ (the name is illegible), for when the folks were shaking with laughter 'Hob-nail' grunted out, 'Didst ever th' see Jack Murrel grin through a horse-collar at the "Barley Mow," Stoodley, eh?' "
     Then follows a minute description of the viands at that day's dinner, with the remark, "The popular dish, macaroni, as served by the Duke of York's chef de cuisine-- delicious!"
     Also, "My lord told Mr. William Throckmorton, in my hearing, that when Hume and Lord Lyttleton (this must have been Thomas, the second baron, better known as the wicked Lord Lyttleton) were at the Hall they had a violent quarrel, in consequence of which 'a meeting' was arranged at the kennels; 'but,' said he, 'Nugent smoothed Tom's ruffled feathers, and his honour was carried to Halesowen that night, whilst I "satisfied" Hume next day by letting him contradict everybody round the table.' We had stewed eels, Severn lampreys, with a haunch of mutton wrapt in paste, boiled turkey, ham, and pastry, with cheese to follow."
     I now come to the careful entry in the diary which seems to have suggested the extraordinary expedition of Frank Chambers. Mark me, there is no date; but from the two entries immediately preceding-- "Received a brace of pheasants from John Wilcox, of Wixford: first this season," and "Lord Hertford tells me of the serious illness of Mr. Millar, his son's old tutor" -- we may reasonably fix the autumn of 1794. "Sent to Ragley Hall to converse with the Abbe Latour, who had just arrived from France with dismal accounts of the provinces. Fearful scenes, which I was able to confirm from my experience. Found that the Abbe knew Edgworth, Gardel, Rancourt, and Bertini among former acquaintances of mine. We dined at six o'clock: everything pretty good, but not so well served as usual. Had to wait for hermitage. Besides Lord Hertford and the ladies, met the Rev. Samuel Parr, two Mr. Conways, Mr. Ingram, also Captain Fortescue, Mr. Knight, Mr. Rudge, Joshua Jennings, and other neighboring gentry. Dr. Parr very glum: sate with a large napkin under his chin, heeding nobody, and feeding as if the fellow had kept right off all the fasts in the calendar... After dinner the conversation somehow turned upon the 'Stratford Jubilee,' and Captain Fortescue wondered if Shakespeare's image in the old church, especially the head, was really like him. 'You had besth dig him up, John Fortescue,' said Dr. Parr (who lisped, and called the poet Thackspear); 'may I be there to thee.' Then Squire Moore mentioned that old Horace Walpole had offered, after the Jubilee, to give George Selwyn three hundred guineas if he could secure Shakespeare's head. Whereupon Parr remarked, 'If he cuth theal away hith brainth, that were theap to him, thir.' Afterwards I walked home beside the doctor's pony to Bartlam's. He was near being split opposite Griffith's at Arrow."

Chapter II
The Plot

     Here we leave the diary for a time, and I quote from notes made after conversation with the late Mr. M., who often begged the recital of this singular exploit from his Uncle Chambers, and who himself transcribed in full some salient features of it. From which it appears that, upon returning home after the above dinner at Ragley, Frank Chambers pondered well how he could gratify his old inclination for adventure and the liberal curiosity of the well-known curioso of Strawberry Hill. He then lodged at the surgery, a comely-looking house still standing at the corner of Malt Mill Lane, Alcester. It was built during the reign of Queen Anne by a branch of the Boteler family, whose arms-- a chevron between three cups, as seen in the great east window of the chantry chapel attached to St. Milburge's at Wixford-- were, until the door was renewed some fifty years ago, carved on an oval shield within the scroll pediment over the entrance.
     Here, in a room on the first floor, still, I think, bearing traces of old adornment, three men joined Chambers one night in the autumn of 1794. Their names were Cull, Dyer and Hawtin, and they were supposed to call for some medicine for their wives. The only bottles on the table were, however, supplied by the near-hand "Golden Cup," and the medicines were of an extremely comfortable and exhilarating nature. Frank  Chambers had some professional dealings with the men previously; and he used laughingly to regret that, with a large churchyard within a few feet of his own door, even then full to repletion, he had been obliged to further the interests of science at the expense of the disused humanity of a neighbouring parish, Alcester churchyard being too public for nocturnal visitations.
     "It is not for that I want you," he said, "but to get at the skull of a chap who has been dead nearly 200 years."
     "Why, you've got one as looks a thousan' year old already," interposed Mr. Hawtin. There was a somewhat grim article of the kind nibbling the hard ledge of the high mantelpiece.
     "That's it, Jim; I want another to bear him company; the poor fellow finds it unked here o' nights since he was swinging free and easy on Mappleborough Green."
     "Well, young master," exclaimed Harry Cull, "I are game, so be these; where's the dig, and what's the shot?"
     "Stratford Church, and three pounds apiece for the job."
     "With laps," put in Hawtin, who had at first hesitated about joining, and whose bibulous propensities were notorious.
     "Any quantity after it is over; not a drop before," said Chambers.

     "I met these fellows at Stratford Church" (writes the late Mr. M., from Frank Chambers' dictation). "It is so long ago that I forget the exact date, yet I remember uncommonly well it was a near thing about getting there at all; for just when I ought to have been setting off, old Grafton down the street took it into his head to have a fit, and as he was a capital patient, I had to remain by the bedside until the doctor returned from seeing Sarah Wilcox of More Hall. It was very dark, too; and in my haste I pitched head-foremost over a footstone near the west door and cut my nose. To my surprise I found Cull and Tom Dyer already hard on, whilst Hawtin scouted, shovelling the earth from the base of a new square tomb on the south side of the chancel, about ten yards from the small door.
     " 'What the deuce are you at?' said I.
     " 'Why, you see,' answered Dyer, 'we warn't a going to wait here all night; and this 'ere's your mon, I reckon.'
     "What could the idiots be dreaming about? Their mistake was afterwards thus explained. I had mentioned to Hawtin (it must have been when I was top-heavy) that the skull I wished to secure at Stratford was that of one William Shakespeare. Now, Hawtin was sweet on a Stratford lass named Esther White, who lived in service at Parson Davenport's, and went courting every Sunday. Like a fool, he told her our intention. He would have worked the oracle to better purpose could he had obtained the keys of the church. Hawtin, who was rather scared at the adventure, asked Esther if she knew anything about William Shakespeare. At first she could only call to mind an inn bearing that name; but at length she remembered a man asking to see master about a tomb to William Shakespeare, and she showed Hawtin where it was.
     "The maid's memory was defective, and neither she nor Hawtin could read, or another name would have appeared, the tomb being really built over the remains of William Shakespeare Payton, a man well known in Stratford, who died in the autumn a year or two before. Hawtin's hesitation about the adventure had turned to eagerness when he conceived that this tomb would be the centre of our operations; and he was taken aback when I whispered to him that he had set his mates on the wrong scent.
     " 'Put the soil back,' I said, 'this is not the man; didn't I tell you he was inside, and 200 years old.'
     " 'Yes!' answered one, 'but we thought that that was only your gammon.'
     " 'So you wished to gammon me in return; but now, my lads,' I continued, 'sharp's the word; we have lost two hours already, and Battersbee, with his bull's-eye, looks round sometimes.'
     "I thought we never should get inside that church. The windows were far above our heads, and well protected by stout stanchions. Dyer, who had served in a smithy, worked with a will at the lock of the chancel door, using the tools I had brought; but those confounded old locks have a way of keeping close, and it would not yield. Further down on the same side was a larger door of ribbed oak, and here Tom was making way when Hawtin scattered us with the caution, 'Men among the trees.'
     "I crept round towards the porch, and, resting on a mound, I plainly heard footsteps on the broad flags in the avenue. I crept nearer. The overhanging boughs, with remnants of leaves, made it too dark to distinguish any form.  I doubt if I could have seen a ghost; but I was within a few feet of the heavy tread of a man, multiplied by Hawtin's fears-- a man, as shown by the voice, which was low and husky. He paced to and fro, the whole length of the avenue; sometimes hurriedly, and then he would pause. Likely enough he had just
left the public-house, for his speech was sometimes incoherent and sometimes sadly too plain. He gave vent to a deep trouble. His daughter, for he called passionately upon his child, had been buried here. A great wrong had been done, by whom I could not make out; but he shook the gates angrily, and muttered three times, 'I will-- yes, I will!' Long afterwards I discovered that his anger had been justly caused by a lamentable occurrence at Bidford Grange. At length (it seemed an hour) he moved rapidly away; and having reassured my companions, we returned to the charge. The door was soon opened, and, tinder box in hand, we groped our way to the great chancel, and with considerable difficulty, for the letters were much worn, I singled out the slab, then about three feet by seven feet, which covers the remains of Shakespeare.
     "Hawtin waited on the outside, to throw a list ball against the windows in case of alarm, whilst Dyer and Cull, by the dim light of two curiously contrived lanterns, began to pick out the mortar dividing that slab from Thomas Nashe's. Great care was necessary, that no trace of our search might remain.
     "As the men stealthily worked, the gloomy silence was quite chilling. Several times the wood-work in the high pews went off with a bang like a gum tree; and once I could almost have sworn that I heard a rumbling in the Clopton Chapel. When the stone was raised and placed on one side, there was very little masonry beneath, chiefly a thick layer of fine brown mould, mixed with woody fibre and fragments of glass, which had been subject to the action of fire. There was evidence also of previous disturbance, for, in addition to a circular piece of metal the size of a guinea, having on one side two crowns and a fleur-de-lis, and on the other a shield bearing three trees, and the name Ashwin beneath, we turned up a thigh bone and finger joints near the surface, and afterwards several teeth, with a knot of oak and a few attenuated nails with square heads.
     "But the most curious discovery was that of a ring, or fillet, probably of bronze, very much worn and indented, in which an inscription had been traced, the only legible part being, as I afterwards found, the half Roman letters, GU-LM-S (then follows a device like a sword), and a rude monogram, H.S. or I.H.S.
     "The men had dug to the depth of three feet, and I now watched narrowly, for, by the clogging of the darker earth, and that peculiar humid state-- smell I can hardly call it-- which sextons and earthgrubbers so well understand, I knew we were nearing the level where the body had formerly mouldered.
     " 'No shovels but the hands,' I whispered, 'and feel for a skull.'
     "There was a long pause as the fellows, sinking in the loose mould, slid their horny palms over fragments of bone. Presently, 'I got him,' said Cull; 'but he's fine and heavy.'
     "Delving to the arm-pits with both hands, he tugged for some seconds, and then brought up a huge grey
stone like that with which the church is built.
     "I began to be sceptical, when Tom Dyer, who was groping some two feet away from where the skull ought to have been, according to the position of the slab, came upon it, and lifted it out, diving again for the jaw.
     "I handled Shakespeare's skull at last, and gazed at it only for a moment, for time was precious. It was smaller than I expected, and in formation not much like what I remembered of the effigy above our heads. At home I made a minute examination, the particulars of which, with other memoranda, were lent to Dr. Booker, of Alcester, and subsequently lost, much to my regret.
     "Then my men most carefully replaced the earth and stone, ramming all interstices with fragments of old mortar brought for the purpose. This, with a liberal sprinkling of dust, plentiful in the old church at that time, effectually concealed our depredations. My men were surprised at the care which I bestowed upon the venerable article. 'Any skull from the charnel house close by,' they remarked, 'would have answered fully as well, without the labour.' 'Every man has his fancy,' I replied, 'this is mine.'
     "When we reached Oversley Bridge, I gave them their money, and more; and a few hours afterwards paid for nine quarts of ale at the 'Globe,' so that they seemed well satisfied with the night's adventure.

Chapter III
The Result

     "My next step," continues Frank Chambers, "was to write in strict confidence to the much-talked-of Mr. Walpole, now Lord Orford. He had been lately staying with Marshal Conway during the latter's illness, at Park Place, in Oxfordshire, and my letter followed him, and was answered from Berkeley Square.
     "He remembered the expression of his former keen interest in Shakespeare, politely appreciated my confidence and labours, and 'would give all the skulls of his living relatives,' so he wrote, 'to possess that of the deceased bard;' but he offered no terms. Again I wrote. He replied that he had been ill, was worn to a skeleton, and at nearly four score could not meet me in Warwickshire. Would I oblige him by coming to Strawberry Hill, and then all could be arranged.
     "Believing that he was shuffling, and desirous of peeping without paying for the show, I stated my inability to comply with his request, and, reminding him of his old offer of 300 guineas for Shakespeare's skull, begged to know if he were still anxious to possess it.
   "There was further delay. At length he arranged to send down a confidant to treat with me for the treasure, and late one evening in December a message was left at my rooms from a Mr. Kirgall, or some such a name,
 requesting to see me at the 'Bear Inn.' (Then comes the interview, to which reference has been made.)
     "Upon entering the low-pitched room, a middle-aged man came forward, dressed in a manner antiquated even for those days. He was rather short, had weak eyes, and was deferential almost to timidity. He had been in Alcester, he said, many years before, and remembered as a lad taking down some figures with reference to a new church under the direction of his present employer and Colonel Conway; and had copied a design for a tower somewhere near. He was now sent to express his lordship's pleasure and cordial congratulations at my success in securing the veritable skull of Shakespeare. Might he be allowed to inspect?
     "I fetched it. Mr. Kirgall was in raptures. His lordship, who had kept our correspondence a profound secret, known only to two maiden ladies and the dear Duchess of Gloucester, would indeed rejoice to possess-- the loan of it. Would I entrust it to his keeping? 'At one price,' I rejoined, eventually reducing that price considerably.
     "The gentleman still dallied; and, soon seeing that his errand was merely to obtain an unconditional loan of the article, I prepared to leave the room. He sought to detain me. Did I consider the risk of having a stolen skull? The Earl did not wish to retain it for his own pleasure, but to show it to other people; 'besides,' he added, forgetting his diffidence, 'it might not be genuine.' Here I stopped him. Finding that I was firm, and further parley on Lord Orford's behalf useless, Mr. Kirgall sought to do a little business on his own account. Examining the skull and the jaw, which I had attached, he noticed that, whilst the molars had disappeared, there were several front teeth in a fair state of preservation, although loose from exposure. Might he extract one, only one? he would fee me handsomely.
     " 'All, or none,' I replied; and, taking up the skull, I abruptly wished him a good-night.
     "Putting my head out of the window early next morning to answer a call, I saw my dear friend holding the open door of the London coach opposite the 'Angel,' and peering up and down the street. Perhaps he thought I should consider the matter more favourably at the last moment. He was mistaken. The coach rattled off, and Mr. Kirgall reached Berkeley Square on the morrow, minus one parcel.

     "The Reverend Samuel Parr, curate in charge of Hatton, had shown the utmost reverence for the memory of Shakespeare; and a quaint drawing of New Place, Stratford, was entrusted to his care by Mr. Colmore, of Birmingham, after the recent riots. This I saw being framed at Twamley's, in Warwick, a few days after the interview with Kirgall; and I suddenly decided, being so near Hatton, to sound the doctor about purchasing so rare a memento of his idol. My excuse must be, youth and innocence, and a scantily-furnished pocket.
     "Leaving Pritchard to drive the hired gig back to Stratford, I had a brisk walk to Hatton, the moon just showing the hoar frost on the ground. Thinking that the vicarage would be handy to the church, I made my way there, but could see no house. There was a faint light from the tower, for the men were ringing to call Christmas. I well remember listening beneath the belfry window, an unusually lofty one; and presently, when they paused, one man struck up the chorus of a carol which my old uncle sang at Studley when I was a child:

     'But Christmas then is Christmas now, though altered are the times,
     When we sate up at midnight to hear the merry chimes.'

     "In a few minutes I found myself at the back of the vicarage. 'This door will do was well as any other,' thought I; and I gave a sturdy rap. 'Come in-- come in,' from a shrill voice, which I recognised, to my surprise, as the doctor's.
     "Somewhat abashed at my intrusion, I entered the kitchen. There, on one side of the wide hearth, sat the little great man in a well-padded library chair, with his right leg resting on a settle, at the extreme end of which was a wiry old man, in brown velvet waistcoat and nankeen breeches and gaiters, polishing a chain, evidently the man-of-all-work. On the opposite side were seated two gaunt female servants, not the least in awe of their learned master. The visitors were, a clergyman, not known, but I think from Tamworth, and my old acquaintance, John Bartlam.
     "Dr. Parr, who resembled a short-horned bull, wore a shabby skull cap, which, being much too large, now and then slipped forwards and rested on his bushy eyebrows. He had no whiskers, and the eyes were very searching. He wore a loose coat with large buttons, black breeches, and ribbed worsted stockings, with broad buckles to his shoes. He looked what he desired to be-- the old fashioned country parson.
     "Laying down his pipe, he greeted me somewhat stiffly, but offered a bed. Waiting until the servants and the Tamworth visitor had retired, leaving the doctor and Mr. Bartlam over their grog, I ventured to hint at the object of my visit. Recalling a former conversation, I cautiously felt my way. If such an article could be procured, would Dr. Parr like to possess Shakespeare's skull? 'How could he possess it?' he interposed, testily; 'it was in the grave, if anywhere.'
     "I continued: 'If you, sir, would make it worth the risk, I happen to know--'
     " 'Know what?' he shouted. 'Has that fellow Garrick left it to his wife? He declared he would steal it at the jubilee.'
     " 'Oh, no!' I rejoined; 'it is there-- that is--' (with hesitation).
     " 'Well then, sir, there let it be' (rolling out pompously). ' "And curst be he that moves my bones." ' Afterwards he added, severely, 'Jack Bartlam, I would have any man whipt at the cart's tail who violated the
sanctity of that grave: it would be worse than Malone or sacrilege.'
     "Seeing that I was utterly mistaken in my man, I changed the subject, and was relieved to get off to bed.
     "In the morning, as I was leaving, Mr. Bartlam walked a little way with me. He said: 'Chambers, you have that skull!' There was something about John Bartlam which forbade subterfuge. He was genial and kind, and, withal, loved a joke; so I told him. He became, however, very grave during the recital, and blamed me somewhat harshly, I then thought. He made me solemnly promise that the skull should be restored; and I (cursing my ill-luck more than my folly) walked on to Teddy's Easthorpe's, at Stratford, who drove me home."
     "I repeatedly pressed my uncle," writes the late Mr. M., "to tell me whether the skull was ever really restored, and gleaned from him the following particulars.
     "After waiting for the waning of that month's moon, he had arranged with Tom Dyer to replace it one night in January, but was obliged to accompany his employer to Mr. Wilks', at Coughton, to a case of compound fracture, whereupon Master Tom declared he could manage it all by himself, as he knew a way of getting into the church through the bone-house. The next day Dyer was paid, after taking an oath that he had buried the skull and made it all square, leaving no trace.
     "On the following Sunday afternoon my uncle attended service at Stratford Church, on purpose to inspect the slab. There were no marks of a second upheaval, but there was an ominous crack right across the slab, about two feet from the end near the communion rails, and this might not long escape observation. To see Dyer was my uncle's first impulse, and he sought him early the next morning. He had gone to do some repairs at Welford Mill; and, later in the day, my uncle, after calling upon a cousin (at Clifford, I believe), traced Dyer to the little front parlour of the 'Four Alls,' near the bridge crossing the Avon.
     "Tom, who was alone and drinking like a fish, at first protested that there was nothing up with the stone. After considerable evasion, he admitted that it was 'a mighty dale heavier than he thought: that he had just lifted one end half an inch or so when it began to snap; and to prevent further mischief he laid it down again.'
     " 'You rascal! Then you never buried the skull!'
     "Tom declared, however, that the old chap was there beneath, as safe as a door nail.
     "Again I asked my uncle, 'Do you think that the skull was ever really restored?' He was silent for a minute, and then quoted its owner for about the first time in his life:

'Twere to consider too curiously to consider so.' "

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Gone With the Wind's Alternate Ending

Many people who watch Gone With the Wind wish the movie had ended differently. Rhett's parting words to Scarlett, Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn, still makes people talk. And the question everyone wants answered is: What happened to Scarlett and Rhett?

Back in 1940, just months after Gone With the Wind had hit the big screen, Screen Guide magazine wondered the same thing. The fadeout of Gone With the Wind whets the curiosity of moviegoers. They watch Scarlett return to Tara alone, deserted by Rhett and they argue hotly among themselves about what happened afterward. "He'd never go back to her!" "Oh yes, he would!" "He wouldn't have to, she'd go to him!" The controversy surrounding the ending of Gone With the Wind is no criticism, but a great tribute to the film's compelling force. So real are the characters created by Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh that they do not cease to exist when their images on the screen fade. Their lives go on in the imagination of every moviegoer. 

Screen Guide held a contest for an additional ending to Gone With the Wind. The prize was $10 and the winner was Arnold Manning, a member of the Navy, stationed on the USS Portland. Illustrations to Manning's story were completed by Bernard Thompson.

"I don't give a damn!" was Rhett's weary reply to Scarlett's selfish cry. "What will become of me?" Now see what might have happened after that.

Here's Manning's winning entry:

Rhett tries to forget in the company of  Charleston's Belle Watlings, drinking too much, cursing Scarlett. Meanwhile, Scarlett, fearing the pitying amusement of gossips, again plays the coquette with man after man, stealing younger girls' lovers.

Alone, Scarlett gives way to despair, realizing that she cannot live without Rhett. "I'll think about that tomorrow," the little opportunist used to say. But this problem she must think about now. She begins to plot ways and means of bringing Rhett Butler back to her.

Aboard his ship, Rhett continues to drink himself into insensibility, determined not to return to his wife, but still unable to break her hold over him. He decides to set sail on a long voyage. Scarlett, when she hears of the plan, takes desperate action to forestall it.

Scarlett has Rhett kidnapped and brought to their home. They spend another night like the one after Rhett carried her upstairs, but this time it is Scarlett who takes the aggressive. All goes well until he sobers up, and then he becomes furious at her trickery.

He slams  out of the house, returns to this ship, and gives orders to sail. He retires to his cabin with a bottle. No matter how much salt water he puts between himself and Scarlett, Rhett is never able to escape from the love he once thought was killed by her selfishness.

A day out to sea, Rhett wakes up, smashes an empty bottle against the cabin door, yells for a full one. A hand sets the bottle on the table. For a moment he thinks he see Scarlett before him, but convinces himself that the vision is a drunken mind's hallucination.

Moments later, a slightly more sober Captain Butler appears on deck. He stops by the mate at the wheel, begins to ask, "Did you see...?" Looking at the seaman's poker face, he finishes, "Never mind." "Your wife, sir?" the mate asks. "My wife?" "That's what she said, sir. She said you'd be looking for her, and that she would be waiting in the fo'c'sle."

Rhett strides angrily along the deck, fists clenched. "My wife! I'll throw that hussy in the brig. Said I'd be looking for her! If she thinks that I'll come running any time she snaps her fingers-- this time I'll kill her!... My wife," he muses. "She said she was my wife."

A different Scarlett waits for him-- proud, yet mutely appealing, promising surrender. "So you said you're my wife!" His manner changes. "You still say it-- and Scarlett, I'll hold you to it!"

And Rhett and Scarlett return together to Tara, to the land. Fadeout.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Darjeeling, India and the Birth of Vivien Leigh

I was born in one of the most romantic places in the world--Darjeeling--although I have only confused impressions of its beauty, and of the gaiety of life there, for my father, who was a stockbroker, brought the family back to England when I was five. -Vivien Leigh (1)

A three year old Vivien Leigh in India
Darjeeling's life began as part of Sikkim in 1817. Prior to that the area that includes Darjeeling belonged to India's next door neighbor, Nepal. The Rajah of Sikkim granted the area and its environs to the British on February 1st, 1835.

The Governor-General having expressed his desire for the possession of the hills of Darjeeling on account of its cool climate, for the purpose of enabling the servants of his Government, suffering from sickness, to avail themselves of its advantages, I the Sikkimputtee Rajah out of friendship for the said Governor-General, hereby present Darjeeling to the East India, that is, all the land south of the Great Runjeet river, east of the Balasur, Kahail and Little Runjeet rivers, and west of the Rungpo and Mahanadi rivers. (2)

 Map of Darjeeling, 1838, from Dorje-Ling, by Henry Vincent Bayley
The view is quite unparalleled for the scenery it embraces, commanding confessedly the grandest known landscape of snowy mountains in the Himalayas and hence in the world. The observer is struck with the sharpness of their outlines, and still more with the wonderful play of colours on their snowy flanks, from the glowing hues reflected in the orange, gold and ruby, from clouds illumined by the sinking or rising sun, to the ghostly pallor that succeeds with twilight. (3)

The British thought Darjeeling would serve as a great location for a sanitarium and began to work on the conversion. At the time, Darjeeling consisted of only a few huts and about 100 people. Many buildings began to spring up including churches and schools. One such building was St. Paul's School.

St. Paul's is one of the oldest schools in India. It was first formed in Calcutta in 1823, then later moved to Darjeeling in 1863, with one more move to its current location in 1864. Over the years, St. Paul's acquired additional property in the form of local tea plantations, which are also called estates. One such tea plantation was the Mount Vernon Estate, which was subsequently renamed for one of the school's rectors, Reverend Dawkins. I'm not sure on the exact date of when Mount Vernon was renamed, but the Reverend Dawkins was the rector at St Paul's from 1922-1927, so the earliest that Mount Vernon could be renamed after him is 1922.

Over the last few years, there has been a rumour circulating on exactly where Vivien was born, within the city of Darjeeling. This rumour says that she was born at Dawkins House, on St. Paul's Campus. This rumour is not true. Both Felix Barker, who interviewed Vivien's parents, and Hugo Vickers, who was given access to all of Vivien's papers, wrote in their respective biographies that Vivien was born at Shannon Lodge, in Darjeeling.

Darjeeling, Queen of the Hills, circa 1916; Note the mountain peaks in the distance.
Vivien's parents, Ernest and Gertrude Hartley, had journeyed to Darjeeling from Calcutta to escape the heat of the city. The Hartleys settled at Shannon Lodge, a two-storeyed house with a wide-sloping roof, set in its own wooded grounds. (4)   [Vivien]...came into the world at Shannon Lodge, soon after sundown on Guy Fawkes Day, 5 November, 1913. (5)

In 1913, they [the Hartleys] spent the pleasant months in Darjeeling, and had a special reason for renting a house rather than staying in a hotel. ...Mrs. Hartley was expecting a child in November... The two-storied house with the wide-sloping roof, which stood in its own wooded grounds on the side of a hill overlooking the town, was a quiet and perfect place in which to prepare for the child's arrival. From the veranda of the house the view seemed especially beautiful on the evening of November 5th. Far away to the north, toward the great snow-capped peaks of Everest and Kanchenjunga; and not long after the sun had disappeared, leaving the town a spangle of twinkling lights in the sudden darkness, the doctor came downstairs with the news that it was a girl. It was against this properly dramatic blackcloth that Vivian Mary Hartley was born. (6)

Shannon Lodge, in the lower left of the map, is clearly visible. Note how St. Paul's School and the Mt. Vernon Estate (now called Dawkins) are located in the upper right of the map. I've underlined all three buildings in red and it's easy to see how they are three separate buildings.

Detail of Darjeeling map, circa 1910, from my collection
Shannon Lodge was built sometime in the late 1800s, prior to 1887. I believe it was built by Thomas Kenay. Kenay had come to Darjeeling as an engineer in 1864. He established a pure water source by building reservoirs at Senchal, since the current water sources in Darjeeling were very questionable. Kenay laid down approximately thirteen miles of pipe to effectively bring the water into the town. He built the barracks at Jalapahar, rebuilt St. Francis' Church, which was renamed St. Joseph's Church, and had a hand in building various other buildings throughout Darjeeling. Two of these buildings were West Point Lodge and Shannon Lodge, both of which are located quite close together (see above map: West Point is slightly west of Shannon Lodge). When Kenay rebuilt St. Francis' (St. Joseph's) in 1880, he re-used some of the old church's windows and doors for the West Point cottage.

Thomas Kenay was approximately 73 years old when he died, in 1899. At the time of his death, he owned several lodges (West Point, Asyleen Villa, Fir Grove, Charlemont), rental buildings in Commercial Row and of course, Shannon Lodge. All of his property went to his three sons, one of whom lived out the remainder of his days at the aforementioned West Point.

During his lifetime, Kenay earned rental income from his various property holdings, including Shannon Lodge. There's a mention of Shannon Lodge in 1887, as the residents there announce the birth of a baby boy.  The next mention that I found came on June 12th, 1897, when India suffered a major earthquake. Darjiling was shaken at 5 o'clock this evening by a most appalling earthquake, the severest ever known here. The shock lasted three minutes and did incalculable damage. Nearly every house in the place has been more or less affected. (7)   Luckily, Shannon Lodge suffered only a minimal amount of damage and was repaired soon after. 

In 1899, Shannon Lodge now has new tenants, two doctors:  Dr. Robert Ingersoll and his wife, Dr. Olive Ingersoll. They were Protestant missionaries from the Seventh Day Adventist Church, located in the United States. The Ingersolls were in India, not only to minister, but to practice medicine and to teach.

Note how Shannon Lodge is its own address.
On the modern day Google map below, I've marked with a red X the approximate vicinity that Shannon Lodge would be located today (lower left on map). I don't currently know if it's still standing or not. Note how St. Paul's School is still located in the upper right of the map. St. Paul's School and Shannon Lodge have not converged.

Modern day map of Darjeeling, from Google
There's also another rumour circulating about Vivien, which says that Vivien attended the Loreto Convent in Darjeeling. It is possible that she may have attended a few months there, before her parents took her back to England and enrolled her in Sacred Heart. In the Loreto Convent's records, that are currently available, they show that a Gertrude Yackjee attended school there and this Gertrude's age matches that of the future Mrs. Hartley, which is why I give weight to this possibility. After all the time I've spent on the Yackjee surname, I've only ever come across one person named Gertrude Yackjee (Vivien's mother). Of course, that doesn't mean there wasn't another G. Yackjee in the world back then, but the possibility that the Gertrude at Loreto is Vivien's mother is extremely high, especially with the location and age match.

Loreto Convent Advertisement, from 1846
Above is a Loreto Convent advertisement for new students. The school lists prices in Indian rupees for boarders and day students, along with charges for additional activities/lessons. There's also some school guidelines listed for the parents and students such as parents should only visit once a month and only on Wednesdays from 11am to 2pm.

1. What Success Has Taught Me, article by Vivien Leigh
2. Bengal District Gazetteer, L.S.S O' Malley
3. Himalayan Journals, Sir Joseph Hooker
4. Vivien Leigh: A Biography, Hugo Vickers, page 9
5. Ibid, page 3
6. The Oliviers, Felix Barker, page 77
7. The Earthquake in Bengal and Assam, printed by the Englishman Press, pages 240-241