[W. H. Berry (William Henry Berry), English comic actor and BBC broadcaster.] Two long Autograph Letters Signed to theatre historian W. J. Macqueen-Pope, full of reminiscence.

W. H. Berry [William Henry Berry] (1870-1951), English comic stage actor associated with George Grossmith and George Edwardes, and BBC broadcaster [W. J. Macqueen-Pope, theatre historian]
Publication details: 
30 December 1947; on letterhead of Poplar Cottage, Beltinge Cliffs, Herne Bay. 6 March 1948; from Poplar Cottage.
SKU: 24194

Berry was hugely popular during the Edwardian period and into the First World War. His greatest success was as ‘Mr Meebles’ in ‘The Boy’ (1917). See the recipient’s entry in the Oxford DNB. Both letters signed ‘W. H. Berry’, and the second with long postscript on separate 12mo leaf signed ‘W. H. B’. In fair condition, aged and worn. ONE: 30 December 1947. 4pp, 4to. ‘This letter will be quite a “rat-tat from the past” (as Geo. Graves used to say), & its many a long year since I last saw you - & much has happened since “those were the days” & carriages were at 11. I have been thinking a lot lately of those days (& evenings) when I used to see you entering my tube train at Finsbury Park, both bound for Theatreland & our work therein - which we both loved.’ He praises MP’s ‘recent writing on my favourite topic & my one & only period - the theatre in my time, say from 1890 onwards!’ He is fulsome in praise of MP’s work, adding ‘My friend Wyatt shares these joys with me, & he tells me visited you recently? [...] Strange isnt it that Wyatt is the nephew of my old dresser Bartlett. Who was with me for years until he died?’ He discusses his past ill health, adding ‘I’m really in pretty good form, considering I’m 77 - in fact only 3 months short of 78.’’ After the death of his beloved wife he has been fortunate enough to marry ‘an old friend of ours of over 40 years & has lived here for the past 10 years [...] My wife passed away last January, & my dear & I were married at Canterbury on July 17’. He ends with enquiries after ‘Jack Macqueen’. TWO: 6 March 1948. 2pp, 4to, and postscript of 2pp, 12mo. He is sorry that he has not been ‘up to’ responding to MP’s two recent letters, and now thanks him ‘for the Copy of that nice little mag “The Playgoer,” which was, naturally, made more interesting by our article on “Gaiety Gals” - including pictures of Sylvia Storey & Jean Alwyn both in “Havana”! Also my old publicity “guvoner” [sic] H. C. G (Inky) Stevens has an article on “Show folk” which I enjoyed - as you may imagine. Of course I could not refrain from a little longing when I thought of Gaiety, “Havana” & “Show folk”! Ah me.’ He has sent him a photograph of the Lowther Arcade, as he ‘thought the sight of the dear old place might have revived a few delightful memories’. ‘I was much amused about your story of Alphours & Tauber, & I hope that when you refer to my book for anything you want, you won’t miss my anecdotes about (1) Geo Edwardes & Willie Ward at a “Cuts” rehearsal (“I must save time”) & (2) Geo Edwardes greeting Alfred Lester who had called to protest about me having all the numbers to sing in “Havana”'. In a postscript he writes: ‘I, like you, am so fond of, & wrapped up in the Theatre that I love to write about it - if I write any-thing, & I thought I’d struck a good idea (& a good title) when I wrote a book recently: - / “The Private life of a Theatre” / The first chapter was an account of a visit to a typical musical comedy with everything that happens from the entry of the orchestra to the final curtain, & then I say: - “now those few hours are all the general public know of the life of a theatre: but what about all those other 20 hours? Does nothing happen” etc etc / But Hutchinson’s didn’t like it, so its put away in Lavender with other mementos.’