Dear Reader

Dear Reader #190

Dear Reader,

June 1938 and my character, Abigail Summer, aka Sunshine, sets sail on the Queen Mary, heading for New York en route to Hollywood to holiday with her uncle, who’s a screenwriter. The ship featured two indoor swimming pools, beauty salons, libraries, a children’s nursery, a music studio, a lecture hall, telephone connectivity to anywhere in the world, and dog kennels. Sunshine meets an actor on board, but doesn’t recognise him. Nevertheless, he invites her to dinner…

Clara Bow’s twenty-ninth movie was The Shadow of the Law, a silent crime drama produced during the Fall of 1925 and released on January 24, 1926. Clara played Mary Brophy a woman sent to prison for a crime she did not commit, similar to characters she’d played before.

The Shadow of the Law was another marking time movie for Clara. It disappeared on the daily-change circuit and is now considered lost.

I’m exploring the life and career of Virginia Cherrill, the person who, along with Charlie Chaplin, delivered the “Greatest single piece of acting ever committed to celluloid.”

In 1930, while filming Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights (pictured), Virginia Cherrill was living with her mother, Blanche. Aged 22 and separated from her husband, Irving Adler, Virginia was mixing with Hollywood high society, including newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and his mistress, Marion Davies. Indeed, Virginia became good friends with Marion and through her influence she managed to persuade Chaplin to double her salary to $150 a week.

Virginia and Blanche were paying rent of $165 a month. The 1930 census reveals that they owned a radio, that Blanche was divorced and not in employment, and that Virginia was presenting herself as single, with no reference to her marriage. Furthermore, Virginia stated that she worked in motion pictures.

To help promote City Lights, Virginia regularly featured in newspapers and magazines, such as this item from the December 31, 1930 issue of The Tatler.

Ancestral Stories: Lions Led by Donkeys

When the First World War broke out, my 2 x great grandfather Albert Charles Bick was working as a car man at Doulton’s Pipe Works in Lambeth. Married to Annie Noulton, he was the father of six children with another on the way.

On 31 August 1915, Albert departed for France to serve his country. Less than a month later, on 25 September 1915, he found himself in the Battle of Loos, the biggest British attack of 1915, and the first time that the British had used poisoned gas.

The engineers manning the poisoned gas cylinders warned against their use, because of the unpredictability of the wind. However, they were overruled by General Sir Hubert Gough. So, at 6.30 am on 25 September 1915, Albert engaged in battle, charging across open ground, the air full of poisoned gas and bullets.

📸 British infantry advancing at Loos 25 September 1915

As the battle developed, the gas claimed more British than German casualties. In four hours, twelve attacking battalions suffered 8,000 casualties out of 10,000 men. In total, the British suffered 48,367 casualties in the main attack and 10,880 more in the second attack, a total of 59,247 losses, a high percentage of the 285,107 British casualties on the Western Front in 1915. 

Albert Charles Bick died at Loos on 25 September 1915, whether through gas poisoning, a machine gun bullet or a mortar bomb is not known, for his body was not recovered. In the official files he is listed as ‘presumed dead’.

Although General Sir Hubert Gough was guilty of gross incompetence and responsible for the deaths of thousands of his own men, the authorities closed ranks and did not apportion blame.

The poet Robert Graves featured in the Battle of Loos and wrote about his experiences in Goodbye to All That, while the Loos Memorial commemorates over 20,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers who fell in the battle and have no known grave, including Albert Charles Bick.

📸 Loos war memorial 

Latest results from Round Two in my Mastodon Mega Movie Poll.

Laura 22% v 78% Rear Window

The Maltese Falcon 78% v 22% Sunrise

Third Round

Citizen Kane 73% v 27% A Streetcar Named Desire

Gone with the Wind 23% v 77% Dr Strangelove

Lawrence of Arabia 63% v 37% The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Duck Soup 51% v 49% Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Casablanca 78% v 22% King Kong 

Some book news, after fifteen appearances at number one, Sam’s Song, book one in my Sam Smith Mystery Series, is currently number two on the Amazon charts. Not bad for a book that’s eight years old 🙂

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

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3 replies on “Dear Reader #190”

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