During the first 3 weeks of June in 1904 my grandmother, Ines Maude Smith, made the trip from Tamworth to Sydney to see Miss Maud Jeffries in the play “The Sign of the Cross”, in one of Maude’s last stage performances before retiring to married life. I can imagine women in their evening attire amongst the strong aroma of wood and dust waiting patiently for the heavy curtain at the Theatre Royal to be raised on the first act. The theatre was quite likely a cold place on that winter’s night, but everyone in the theatre was willing to forgo a little comfort to watch this acclaimed actress.
The postcard I have chosen of Maude Jeffries is in sepia tones which lends itself to the age of 106 years, and is in remarkably good condition – a true treasure in the collection. It shows her in costume and is well recognised amongst postcard collectors.
The Sign of the Cross was a four act historical tragedy written by Wilson Barrett (1846 – 1904). Marcus Superbus falls in love with a young lady – Mercia – and then converts to Christianity in the name of love. At the end Marcus and Mercia sacrifice their lives in the arena of lions
It feels very special to me to know that nearly 110 years ago my grandmother sat in a seat at the Theatre Royal to watch this actress perform. I have loved live theatre all my life and there was a sense of “connectedness” with my grandmother when I first read this special postcard. Just to know that my grandmother loved the theatre also fills in the “grey areas” of a lady that I never knew. Unfortunately, Ines didn’t pass this love for live theatre to my own mother – Madeleine Bailey, however my mother did enjoy going to the picture theatre. There are four postcards of Maude Jeffries and I think that she must have been granma’s favourite actress, but there are numerous cards of other famous actresses of the time included in grandad’s postcard collection including: