Celebrity for the week ending
Saturday, 4 April 2009

Julia Stewart (fl. 1870s), Scottish actress,
as Maggie Macfarlane in W.S. Gilbert's three act farcical comedy
Engaged, Haymarket Theatre, London, 3 October 1877

Julia Stewart
Julia Stewart as Maggie Macfarlane
in W.S. Gilbert's Engaged, Haymarket, London, 3 October 1877

(photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, 1877)

'After a brief but welcome tenure of the stage here by Mr John S. Clark, with The Widow Hunt and Paul Pry, way has once more been made for Mr W.S. Gilbert, whose new and original farcical comedy, called Engaged, was produced on Wednesday last, in presence of an audience which was more critical than numerous. Engaged, which is divided into three acts, is one of those clever, fanciful, comical, satirical bits of extravagance in the way of stage work which might be expected from the pen of Mr Gilbert, but hardly from that of any other living author. . . . Our first introduction after the rising of the curtain is to Angus Macalaster (Mr F. Dewar), ''a Lowland peasant lad,'' and to his pretty sweetheart, Maggie Macfarlane (Miss Julia Stewart). . . . A decidedly favourable impression was made by Miss Julia Stewart, who, in the character of the unsophisticated Maggie, bewitched all present by her pretty face, her artless, winning style, her dainty treatment of the Scotch dialect, and the thorough freshness and naturalness of her acting throughout. This was one of the pleasantest performances we have seen for many a day. . . .'
(The Era, London, Sunday, 7 October 1877, p. 12a/b)

'HON'R'D MA'AM, - I earnestly advise all your lady subscribers on no account to neglect seeing Mr. GILBERT'S new piece at the Haymarket.
'I advise the rest of the ladies who do not ready your journal regularly to stay away.
'My reason for drawing this distinction is, that I naturally suppose a lady subscriber to your journal possesses a sense of humour - a sense which, I trust, I may be pardoned for venturing to assert, is not invariably included among those the generality of ladies possess. ''What on earth is there to laugh at?'' exclaimed the lady sitting next to me, in tones of genuine astonishment, and looking round at the ladies' faces in the dress circular behind me, I, for the first time, realized the fact that Mr. GILBERT'S little joke was not seen by the ladies. I am not, by any means, too sure that all the good gentlemen saw it either, but certainly it was the men who laughed. In my opinion Engaged is by far the best thing its author has yet given us; but, at the same time, it will, in all probability, prove the least successful. In that event, I repeat I earnestly advise your subscribers to go and see it whilst they can. The acting of all concerned, I may add, could not be better. Mr. GEORGE HONEY is capital, and that character suits his style perfectly. Miss MARION TERRY, too, is excellent; and so, also, is Miss JULIA STEWART - only, I should not advise that young lady to take this piece to Scotland with her, should she ever think of returning there. I have reason to believe that they would not see the fun of this piece in Scotland. . . .'
('The Only Jones,' Judy, London, Wednesday, 17 October 1877, p. 9b)

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© John Culme, 2009