Monday, March 29, 2021

the last book I ever read (Gluck: Her Biography by Diana Souhami, excerpt one)

from Gluck: Her Biography by Diana Souhami:

Gluck described the family home as full of blue ornaments, diarrhoeacoloured oak, endless games of bridge and her father cheating at patience. She did, though, regard her childhood as happy. As for her latent taste for crossdressing, her brother remember her intense annoyance at being given a Red Cross nurse’s outfit at the time of the Boer War, when he got a City Imperial Volunteers uniform with slouch hat, bandolier, leather leggings and gun. She freely admitted to a preference for games where she was Napoleon, and in her teens was commended in the Hampstead and St John’s Wood Advertiser for her ‘dignified and impressive’ performance as Cardinal Wolsey in scenes from Henry VIII at Miss Mathilde Ellis’s Pupils’ Recital at the Hampstead Conservatoire. As that same evening Ruby Greenop played Romeo, and Beatrice Cohen was William III, gender crossing probably reflects more on the surfeit of girls at Miss Ellis’s dramatic society, than as a reliable indicator of androgyny. Two years later, a play Gluck wrote called King and Pope was produced at the same Conservatoire. It ran to three mercifully short acts and a prologue and was set in eleventh-century Germany. She played Henry IV, her brother the Prince, her cousins Isidore and Barnett the Pope and the Bishop, and Sadie Cohen the lady-in-waiting.

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