Circus and Stage: The Theatrical Adventures of Rose Edouin and G. B. W. Lewis

Mimi Colligan

Circus and Stage: The Theatrical Adventures of Rose Edouin and G. B. W. Lewis
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Circus and Stage: The Theatrical Adventures of Rose Edouin and G. B. W. Lewis

Mimi Colligan

Rose Edouin née Bryer and her husband, entrepreneur and circus performer George Benjamin William Lewis rarely receive much attention in the history of Australian theatre. Many Australians know the name of George Coppin, who arrived in the Australian colonies in 1843, and James Cassius Williamson, who came to Australia in 1874; however, few would be aware of the achievements of this couple, whose careers encompassed circus, the popular stage and theatre management in Europe, Australia, China, India and New Zealand, and spanned more than half a century from 1853.

Actress Rose Edouin, also known as Mrs. G. B. W. Lewis, began her career as a child star in London, toured the gold towns of Victoria, and acted in and directed popular theatre in India and China before returning to Melbourne to open the Bijou theatre in Bourke Street. In her old age in England she played character roles with the great actor manager Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree.

In 1925 The Sydney Bulletin commented on Rose:

In her girlhood she must have played before grey-whiskered warriors who had fought at Trafalgar and Waterloo: in her old age she delighted Diggers from Australia and Maoriland … veterans of Lone Pine and Mont St Quentin.

G. B. W. Lewis brought horse circus to Melbourne, opened the building that became the Princess Theatre, built theatres in Calcutta, was an early employer of J. C. Williamson, and managed the Academy of Music/Bijou Theatre from 1876 to 1885. He was also an early developer of St Kilda Road during the land boom.

This book provides a fascinating insight into the lives of two stars of 19th century theatre

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