Celebrity for the week ending
Saturday, 2 October 2004

'Bonnie' Kate Harvey (fl.1880s/1890s)
English music hall serio-comic singer

Kate Harvey

'Bonnie' Kate Harvey

(photo: James Bacon, Newcastle on Tyne, circa 1894)

'Bonnie' Kate Harvey's career as a singer on the English music hall stage flourished throughout the 1880s and most of the 1890s. She appeared at almost every London and provincial hall of note. Early in 1881, for instance, when her agent was the celebrated Ambrose Maynard (d.1888), she was billed as the 'Most Popular of all London Lady Favorites,' upon her presentation nightly at three London halls: the Sun at Knightsbridge (8.30pm), the South London (9.30pm), and Evans's in Covent Garden (10.30pm). At the South London she was described as 'a genial-looking vocalist, who seems to be in considerable favor.' At the Marylebone music hall in March that year her 'impressive presence and tuneful ditties [gained] a host of admirers'
(The Ent'racte, London, Saturday, 22 January 1881, p.16b, 19 February 1881, p.6b, and 12 March 1881, p.11a).

In 1885, again at the Marylebone, we read that Miss Harvey 'rejoices in a definite and genial method which is not disfigured by anything in the shape of half-heartedness. Her aim is unmistakable, and she generally hits her mark.' The songs in her repertoire, rendered in 'rollicking style,' included 'Did'em?' 'Floral Emblems' and the waltz 'See-Saw.' By now she was enthusiastically styled 'The Rage of London. Everybody's Favourite. The greatest serio-comic success ever known.' Eventually her numbers included 'You See I'm but a Simple Country Maid' which, according to Tracy C. Davis, was not only a blatant untruth, but put Miss Harvey in the same 'immoral' company as Bessie Bellwood, Marie Lloyd and other serio-comic singers of risqué material.
(The Entr'acte, London, Saturday, 7 March 1885, p.6a, 21 March 1885, p.5b; 4 April 1885, p.13c; T.C. Davis, Actresses as Working Women, Routledge, London and New York, 1991, p.118)

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© John Culme, 2004