A Victorian actress who became an Edwardian detective
Kate Augusta Easton (1856-1931) was born in Lambeth, London on 18 June 1856 and was baptised at St. John the Evangelist on 5 October, when her family was living in Waterloo Road. She was the daughter of William Mead Easton, a tobacconist, and Sarah Easton. Her brother William Alexander Easton became a professor of music and Kate became a vocalist and actor in the 1870s. In 1901 she was still acting and was living with her mother at 26 Great Russell Street in Bloomsbury, but not long after she changed career and set up her own detective agency at 241 Shaftesbury Avenue. This advert from 1907 shows her specialities as a detective included divorce cases, blackmailing, family matters and the tracing of debtors. Easton was clearly a suffragette as, in common with many suffragettes, she refused to provide any information for the 1911 census - she was living at Warwick Mansions, Warwick Court in Holborn - and the enumerator had to guess her age as 'about 45' (she was in fact 55) and described her as a 'private enquiry agent'. Kate Easton continued to work as a detective and died in Kensington in 1931.
Jennifer Carnell is the author of Mary Elizabeth Braddon and the Victorian Theatre.