FIRST EDITION, DOUBLE SIGNED by both THORNDIKES. Large 8vo, pp. 320 + b/w frontis and plates. Original orange and yellow patterned cloth, spine and upper board lettered in black and blind ruled, Sybil Thorndike's facsimile signature black-stamped to upper board. Spine sunned, pushing and wear to spine ends and corners. Signed in black pen to tanned half-title by both subject and author, dated (in the latter's hand?) "June 6th 1929", ink offsetting from Russell's signature, page separating at heel, but holding firm. Blue Westminster Abbey service sheet (24,10.1982; incl. details about a short ceremony for the centenary of Sybil's birth) tipped in to rear fep gutter, newspaper clipping 'On This Day: March 27 1924' pasted to rear pastedown. Else, clean and tidy. A rare signed familial two-hander, marking the arrival of the doyenne of the twentieth century Shakespearean stage.
The Thorndike siblings began their theatrical training and careers together, both studying at Ben Greet's Academy and subsequently touring with the company, notably in North America. While the elder Sybil (1882-1976) would go on to success and national recognition for her Shakespearean roles, Russell (1885-1972) found renown as a novelist, especially with his Doctor Syn series, featuring the vicar-cum-smuggler protagonist, Christopher Syn (Doctor Syn: A Tale of the Romney Marsh had appeared in 1915). In the 1920s, the decade capped by Russell's memoir, the siblings starred together at the Little Theatre in a series of Grand Guignol melodramas, directed by Thorndike's husband Lewis Casson; in titles such as The Hand of Death, The Kill, and Fear, "they were gainfully employed terrifying theatregoers" (ODNB). On the heels of the horror, the theatrical family concern set up management of the New Theatre. While Sybil was only 47 at its publication, her brother's memoir was far from premature: Saint Joan, which Bernard Shaw had written for the actor, had opened at the New Theatre in March 1924 and "marked the early but unchallenged climax of her career" (ibid). Two years after its publication, Sybil Thorndike was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, only the sixth actress to receive the title. Seller Inventory # 2342
Author [THORNDIKE, Sybil]; THORNDIKE, Russell
Publisher London: Thornton Butterworth Limited