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Edward Sothern scrapbook and photograph portfolio, circa 1860-1920 (bulk 1870-1900)

MS 020

Collection Summary

Creator: Sothern, Edward Hugh
Collection Name: Edward Sothern scrapbook and photograph portfolio
Bulk Dates: (bulk 1870-1900)
Physical Description:0.2 linear feet
Abstract:Scrapbook of newspaper clippings, sketches, photographs, letters, hotel receipts and other memorabilia of Edward Hugh Sothern and his father, Edward Askew Sothern concerning their acting careers and personal interests, as well as a photograph portfolio containing five studio portraits and one color sketch of Julia Marlowe, E. H. Sothern, and others, mostly between 1870 and 1900.
Collection Number:MS 020
Language: Materials in English
Repository: University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections
University of Arizona
PO Box 210055
Tucson, AZ 85721-0055
Phone: 520-621-6423
Fax: 520-621-9733

Biographical Note

Edward Hugh Sothern was born in December 6, 1859. Sothern was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of English actor E. A. Sothern and his wife Frances Emily "Fannie" Stewart (d. 1882). Sothern was educated in England at St Marylebone Grammar School. His brothers and sister all became actors: Lytton Edward Sothern (1851–1887); George Evelyn Augustus T. Sothern (1864–1920), who used the stage name Sam Sothern; and Eva Mary Sothern. Sothern's father had encouraged pursuits other than the stage, but Sothern had already caught the acting bug. His first professional acting appearance was in 1879 as the cabman in an American revival of Brother Sam, a show written by John Oxenford in 1862 for his father, and in which his father played the lead. After playing in Boston and touring in the U.S., he sailed for England, making his London debut in 1881 on a double bill as Mr. Sharpe in False Colours and Marshley Bittern in Out of the Hunt. The next year, he played Arthur Spoonbill in Fourteen Days and then toured in Britain with Charles Wyndham's company. He made a hit as the lovesick auctioneer in the romantic comedy The Highest Bidder (1887). He was especially known for his heroic portrayal of Rudolph Rassendyl in the first stage adaptation of The Prisoner of Zenda, by Anthony Hope, which he first played in 1895. The role made him a star. In 1896, Sothern married actress Virginia Harned whose real name was Virginia Hicks and was on stage for about 8 years, her best work was in Mr. Sotherns company, as the adventuress in "The Maister of Woodbarrow," Drusilla Ives in "The Dancing Girl," the heiress in "Lettarblair, and Julie in "An Enemy to the King". She was married once before. For several years, Sothern dreamed of mounting a spectacular and precise production of Hamlet. He finally opened the play in New York in 1900, but during the first week, he was stabbed in the foot by Laertes' sword and was stricken with blood poisoning, closing the production. After he recovered, he revived the piece on tour, but the sets and costumes were destroyed by a fire in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1904, he began an extremely successful partnership with actress Julia Marlowe, beginning with their appearances as the title roles in Romeo and Juliet, Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, and the leads in Hamlet. They toured all over the U.S. in these plays, adding The Taming of the Shrew, The Merchant of Venice and Twelfth Night to their repertoire in 1905.At the end of 1909, Sothern and Marlowe reunited in Antony and Cleopatra at the New Theatre in New York under the direction of Louis Calvert. In 1910 they toured in Macbeth, receiving enthusiastic notices and bringing the production to New York, where it was a hit. They then continued to tour their Shakespearean repertoire, also playing special performances of the plays for children at schools. Sothern divorced Harned to marry Marlowe in 1911. Soon afterwards, Marlowe's health was failing, and she retired in 1924, although she lived until 1950. In 1925, Sothern played Edmund de Verron in Accused, and in 1926, he played Tiburtius in What Never Dies. In 1928, he began to lecture about Shakespeare on successful speaking tours, continuing on the lecture circuit until his death in 1933. He died in New York City of pneumonia in 1933 at the age of 73 and was cremated.

Edward Askew Sothern was born in Liverpool in 1 April 1826 and died 20 January 1881. Edward Askew was an English actor known for his comic roles in Britain and America, the son of a merchant. He began studying medicine, and his parents hoped that he would become a minister, but he decided against pursuing those professions. He worked as a clerk in the late 1840s and married Frances Emily "Fannie" Stewart (d. 1882). He began acting as an amateur in 1848 under the stage name of Douglas Stewart. In 1849 he appeared in his first professional engagement at Saint Helier in Jersey, as Claude Melnotte in Bulwer Lytton's The Lady of Lyons. In the early 1850s, he played in various English companies without particular success in Portsmouth, Wolverhampton and Birmingham. He began acting as an amateur in 1848 under the stage name of Douglas Stewart. He was known as a sportsman and bon vivant and became famous for his magic tricks, conversation and, especially, his practical jokes (he was born on April fool's day). Sothern and his friends demanded that clerks sell them goods not carried by the store in question, staged mock arguments on public omnibuses, ran fake advertisements in newspapers, paid street urchins to annoy passers-by and so forth. At one restaurant, Toole and Sothern removed the silver and hid under the table. When the unfortunate waiter found the dining room empty and the silver gone, he ran to report the theft. By the time he returned, Toole and Sothern had re-set the table as if nothing had happened. Mr. Sothern was known for his most "famous hoax" which was Sothern's passion for practical joking amounted almost to a mania. When the husband of actress Adelaide Neilson, Philip Henry Lee, visited New York in the mid-19th century, he had been warned about the wild behaviour of American authors, but gathered that it was a joke. Sothern assured him it was true and arranged a private dinner for Lee with twelve "writers and critics" (who were really actors). During the dinner, an altercation arose over the passing of the mustard with a fight breaking out, the men brandished both knives and revolvers. The room was filled with shouts, shots, and struggle. Someone thrust a knife into Lee's hand, saying, "Defend yourself! This is butchery, sheer butchery." Sothern advised him to "Keep cool, and don't get shot." The performance ended with Lee hidden behind a door as the real police burst in because of all the commotion. Sothern died at his home in Cavendish Square, London, at the age of 54 and is buried in Southampton Old Cemetery, Southampton. Sothern was such a notorious practical joker that many of his friends missed his funeral, thinking it was a joke. His sister, Mary Cowan, was the principal beneficiary of his last will, signed shortly before his death. A previous will had given most of the estate to his widow and children. Sothern's widow contested the will but lost, and it took Cowan until 31 May 1881 to obtain probate. Gilbert suggested that she "underlet" Foggerty's Fairy to him, and he eventually had it produced. Later, she wrote to him: "Allow me to say that of all the people with whom I have had any dealings in reference to money since my Brother's death, you have treated me with the greatest kindness. Sothern and his wife had four children, all of whom became actors: Lytton Edward (1851–1887), Edward Hugh (E. H.), George Evelyn Augustus T. (b. 1870) who used the stage name Sam Sothern) and Eva Mary. E. H. Sothern became prominent on the American stage. Sothern's house in Kensington, London was a resort for people of fashion, and he was as much a favourite in America as in the United Kingdom.

Scope and Content Note

Scrapbook of various items related to the careers of Edward Hugh Sothern and his father, Edward Askew Sothern, and a portfolio of photographs from Edward Hugh’s wife, Julia Marlowe. Scrapbook items include newspaper clippings about personal and professional events, sketches by father and son, illustrations cut from newspapers to use as drawing studies, and pages from three illustrated English newspapers, “The Graphic,” and “The Graphic, Paris Illustrated,” from 1878-1879, “The Referee,” from 1894, a Chinese newspaper from San Francisco, and a Turkish newspaper. There are letters to Edward Hugh, ca. 1900, from writers wanting him to read their plays. Hotel receipts and other memorabilia are from France and Spain. Playbills from 1896 are present for “The Prisoner of Zenda” at the St. James’ Theatre, London. There are also tintypes of both Edward Hugh and Edward Askew, a group portrait with actor friends William J. Florence, George Holland, and Henry M. Rogers, and albumen photographs of British landscape scenes and tourist sites in Rome. The photograph portfolio has five undated studio portraits and one color sketch. Portraits are of Julia Marlowe, E. H. Sothern, his mother Frances Stewart Sothern, the Italian baritone Titta Ruffo, and a friend of Julia’s named Constance. The sketch is of Sarah Bernhardt.


This collection is organized into two series:
Series I: Scrapbook, circa 1860-1920 (bulk 1870-1900)
Series II: Photograph portfolio, undated





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Access Terms

Personal Name(s)
Marlow, Julia, 1865-1950—Portraits
Rufo, Titta, 1877-1953—Portraits
Sothern, E. H. (Edward Hugh), 1859-1933
Sothern, Frances Stewart, d.1882—Portraits
Southern, Edward Askew, 1826-1881--Portraits

Actors—Pictorial works
Europe—Description and travel
Theater—England—History—19th century
Theater—United States—History—19th century

Administrative Information

Credit Line

Edward Sothern scrapbook and photograph portfolio (MS 020). Special Collections, University of Arizona Libraries.

Container List

Scrapbook circa 1860-1920 , bulk 1870-1900
Contains clippings relating to contemporary theater; scenes; photographs; sketches by E. H. Sothern and his father E. A. Sothern.
Photograph portfolio
The photograph portfolio has five undated studio portraits and one color sketch. Portraits are of Julia Marlowe, E. H. Sothern, his mother Frances Stewart Sothern, the Italian baritone Titta Ruffo, and a friend of Julia’s named Constance. The sketch is of Sarah Bernhardt.