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Contract between Nora Delany (1889-1977) and J.C. Williamson Ltd., dated 1921, for Nora Delany to tour in pantomime in Australia and New Zealand

  • Object:

    Contract

  • Place of origin:

    London (printed)

  • Date:

    26 January 1921 (signed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    William Clowes & Sons (printers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Letterpress and woodcut print, with manuscript on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Penny and David Barham

  • Museum number:

    S.1193-2012

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Pantomime was popular in Australia and New Zealand in the early 20th century and J.C. Williamson Ltd. was the most important production company producing theatre there, frequently importing British stars. This contract is for Nora Delany (1887-1977) to appear as Principal Boy for a salary of £150 a week on tour in Australia and New Zealand in 1921 and 1922. Born in Ireland, Nora Delany lived in Manchester as a child and began her stage career in the chorus of Dick Whittington at the Grand Theatre Croydon, December 1908. She appeared in the original 1909 production of The Arcadians, in music hall as 'the Girl in Uniform', as well as in pantomime as Principal Boy. She is said to have been married to Sir William Maxwell by 1921, but their relationship was over by 1924 when he married his 'third' wife. Nora Delany married the theatrical impresario Prince Littler at Marylebone Register Office in November 1932.

The name of the pantomime is not specified on this contact, possibly because that was not yet decided when the contract was signed in January 1921, but we know that Nora Delany played Robin Hood in . A newspaper review of the final dress rehearsal at Her Majesty's Theatre, Melbourne, 24 December 1921, mentions the vivid colours of the production, and that Nora Delany wore about a dozen costumes, the first being a white satin tunic with silver braid, a green brocaded velvet cape and a 'jaunty green turban'. Babes in the Wood toured Australia until April 1922 when it was at His Majesty's Theatre, Brisbane, and moved to New Zealand by May 1922.

The contract specifies that Nora Delany would travel first class, and her maid second class, and that they should be ready to sail by steamship to Australia on or about 22 October 1921. It states that the engagement could be extended since she had to be back in the UK in time to rehearse for pantomime in 1922, and gives the rules and regulations concerning her engagement, including the rules that she must not enter or exit the stage at any time apart from that settled at rehearsal, that she must wear the correct costume and not alter her part or disobey the directions of the Stage Manager or Musical Director.

Physical description

Printed contract on a form headed 'Agreement between J.C. Williamson Limited and Miss Nora Delany' with typescript and manuscript additions relating to the terms under which Nora Delany was engaged to play Principal Boy in pantomime in Australia and New Zealand for the 1921-1922 season.

Place of Origin

London (printed)

Date

26 January 1921 (signed)

Artist/maker

William Clowes & Sons (printers)

Materials and Techniques

Letterpress and woodcut print, with manuscript on paper

Dimensions

Height: 34.5 cm, Width: 21.5 cm contract folded, Width: 43.0 cm contract opened out

Object history note

Presented to the Museum by Penny Barham, niece of Prince Littler's wife Nora Delany, with a cartoon drawing once in the possession of Prince Littler.

Descriptive line

Agreement between J.C. Williamson Ltd., of Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, and Nora Delany (1887-1977), for Nora Delany to play Principal Boy in pantomime for 26 weeks at theatres in Australia and New Zealand as specified by the Company. Dated 26 January 1921. Printed paper and ink, printed by William Clowes and Sons, London SE1. Stamped by the agency Denton & Slaters.

Materials

Paper; Ink

Techniques

Letterpress printing; Handwriting; Woodcut

Categories

Entertainment & Leisure; Printed pages & sheets

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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