THE SWANBOROUGH FAMILY
Managers of the Royal Strand Theatre
By
Jennifer Carnell

The following carte de visite photographs of the Swanborough family (excepting the one of Louisa) were bought by me in 2005. Nearly all have the names of the sitter written in pencil on the reverse, and must have belonged to a family member (probably Ada Swanborough, as one of the pictures is inscribed to her). The surname of Swanborough was a stage name, and the real name of the family was Smith.

The original photographs are in poor condition, and very faded, and so have been altered and improved considerably by me in Adobe Photoshop to try and preserve them.

Henry Valentine Swanborough
A carte de visite photograph
by Negretti & Zambra's Photographic Rooms, Crystal Palace, Sydenham, circa 1860.
H.V. Swanborough owned and managed the Strand Theatre with his wife.
He suffered from depression and committed suicide in 1863.

Mary Ann Swanborough, circa 1875.
A carte de visite photograph by Sarony of Scarborough.
Mary Ann was the wife of Henry Valentine Swanborough, and she inherited the theatre on his death.
She remained the owner until financial collapse ended the family's association with the theatre in 1883.
Henry and Mary Ann had five children, all of whom had careers in the theatre.

W.H. Swanborough
William Henry Swanborough was the eldest son.

Louisa Swanborough, circa 1860.
Louisa Swanborough was their eldest daughter. She managed the Strand Theatre for a couple of years, favouring 'Dresden' comedies with eighteenth century costumes. She starred in and produced the first play of Mary Elizabeth Braddon, The Loves of Arcadia (1860).
Louisa retired from the stage a year after her marriage to the wealthy magistrate Major William Lyon and the birth of their first child in 1861.

Arthur Swanborough (?-1895)
A carte de visite, circa 1861.
Arthur can be seen here in his Volunteer uniform. Many actors, writers and artists in London joined newly formed brigades
to protect the country from a feared invasion by France. His unit was probably the Artists' Rifle Volunteer Corps.
Arthur was also a wine merchant, though he seems to have given this up to concentate on being a theatre manager.
In 1860 he married one of the stars of the Strand Theatre, Eleanor Bufton, and they had two daughters, Vere and Augusta.

Edward Swanborough
A carte de visite photograph by Fink Photo, 57 Oxford Street, circa 1862.
Edward is seen here in a double pose, an early example of trick photography.
Like his brothers, Edward became a theatre manager.

Ada Swanborough (1845-1893)
A carte de visite photograph by Fradelle & Leach, 230 Regent Street, circa 1870.
After her sister Louisa's retirement, Ada became the star of the Strand Theatre.

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