The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Kate Santley

Kate Santley

A Woodburytype portrait of the American-born English actress, singer, comedienne and theatre manager Kate Santley (1837-1923).

Slim and pretty, Santley made a name in the 1860s in British music halls and Drury Lane Theatre pantomimes. Early in her career, she played in F. C. Burnand's St. George and the Dragon.

In 1871-72, Santley appeared on Broadway, including in a revival of the hit 1866 musical, The Black Crook. In 1872 she appeared in the London production of The Black Crook at the Alhambra Theatre, where she also starred in Jacques Offenbach and Burnand's La Belle Hélène (1873). Later that year, she sang Cunegonde in Le roi Carotte. In 1874, she played Haidee in H. J. Byron's Don Juan, then in La Jolie Parfumeuse, followed by the title role in Offenbach’s Whittington. In 1876 she played Wilhelmina in The Jolly Waterman at the Opera-Comique and then created the title character in (and produced) Princess Toto, a comic opera by W. S. Gilbert and Frederic Clay. Thereafter, Clay wrote numerous songs (such as her popular hit ‘Nobody knows as I know’) and other operas for Santley.

In 1878, Santley produced and starred in Dipunacy, which was a popular burlesque of Diplomacy. In 1879, at the Royalty Theatre, Santley played in La Marjolaine and starred in (and produced) Little Cinderella and in the hit Tita in Thibet by Frank Desprez. In 1880, she played in the Drury Lane pantomime Mother Goose (and the Enchanted Beauty) with Arthur Roberts, the popular music hall comedian. In 1884, Santley played in La Cosaque at the Royalty, and in 1886, she hired Sidney Jones as musical director for the tour of her musical Vetah.

In 1877 Santley became the manager of the Royalty Theatre, an association lasting some thirty years. The same year the First Chief Officer of the London Fire Brigade strongly recommended to the Metropolitan Board of Works the immediate closure of the theatre. Santley, however, had it reconstructed to designs of architect Thomas Verity. Many of the productions at the Royalty were opera-bouffes adapted from the French. When the theatre finally had a great success, with Brandon Thomas’s Charley's Aunt, its popularity led to its transference after only a month to the larger Globe Theatre.

Photographer unidentified.

An inscription on the album page dates the portrait to December 1883.


Code: 124651
  Back           Home Contact   
© Paul Frecker 2019